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New Rec Center Welcomes Public

Community enjoys activities at $19.2 million Cub Run facility in Chantilly.

People huddled under umbrellas during the March 29, 2003 groundbreaking for the Cub Run Recreation Center in Chantilly. But Sunday's grand opening of the $19.2 million facility was full of sunshine and smiles.

"TODAY, WE'RE opening the doors to 65,000 square feet of fun and recreational enjoyment convenient to the people of western Fairfax County, said county Park Authority Chairman Hal Strickland to the cheering crowd gathered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. "This is a wonderful and much-anticipated occasion."

And as soon as the speeches were over and the public was welcomed to a special, free day at the new rec center, moms, dads, teens, children and senior citizens swarmed inside to see its many wonders. They tried out the treadmills, lifted weights, signed up for classes, saw karate demonstrations, went on nature walks and splashed and swam in the leisure and competitive pools.

"It's awesome," said Chalet Woods' Tim Smith, there with his wife Sara and their family. "It's bigger than I thought it would be," said son Chris, a Stone Middle eighth-grader. "And the slides are definitely the best I've seen." Tim said the competitive pool would be great for Daniel, their son in high school, and Sara said a rec center was "really needed here."

Situated on 37.3 acres next to Westfield High, the rec center is at 4630 Stonecroft Blvd. in Chantilly. It contains a 9,600-square foot weight-training and cardiovascular-fitness area, 25-meter competitive pool, separate leisure pool with slides and play areas, whirlpool/spa, locker rooms, multipurpose rooms and offices.

It also offers a mix of recreational classes including aerobics; yoga; martial arts; tumbling; tap, ballet and ballroom dancing; swimming and arts and crafts. Group fitness classes include strength and balance training and cycling, and "parent and me" classes in aquatics, sports, art and nature are for moms and dads to enjoy together with their preschoolers.

The center is open Monday-Friday, 5 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday, 6 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sunday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m., and the whole shebang is handicap-accessible. Call 703-817-9407 for pool hours and fee information.

Local and state dignitaries, Park Authority and rec center staff were all on hand Sunday for the landmark occasion. Strickland thanked County Executive Tony Griffin and the Park Authority Board members for their support and celebrated the many partnerships — including that between the School Board, Park Authority and Board of Supervisors — that made this project possible.

AGREEING, School Board Chairman and former Park Authority Board member Phil Niedzielski-Eichner said, "It's not possible for us to serve the broad needs of our youth without these kinds of partnerships."

"Without the contribution of this land by the School Board, the cost of this [rec center] would have risen considerably," said Strickland. He then thanked Del. Gary Reese (R-67th) for "being so instrumental" to the project's success when he was Sully District's representative on the School Board.

Current Sully representative Kathy Smith expressed her pleasure with the new facility, adding, "It's going to be great to share that parking lot for back-to-school nights at Westfield High." Park Authority Director Michael Kane said Cub Run is the first new rec center the Park Authority's opened in 17 years, and he thanked its architects, engineers, designers, builders and those who managed its construction. Then the center's manager, Doreen Henry, introduced her staff.

"It really is just a tremendous day," said Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully). "We have waited a long time for this, and I think we'll find the wait has been worth it. There was more public input in this facility, I think, than in any other rec center the Park Authority has done. And it's taken a lot of leadership on the part of Hal Strickland and Mike Kane."

Frey noted many of the elements making this rec center unique, including its huge fitness area, leisure pool, drowning-detection system in the competitive pool and wireless Internet capability in the observation areas. It's also special, he said, because of Sully Woodlands — the nearly 2,300 acres of parkland outside its doors. And to take advantage of its environmental and ecological activities, Cub Run has a naturalist.

"The Park Authority Board and other Board of Supervisors members deserve a lot of credit for putting together this amount of parkland," said Frey. "All the individual members of the Board of Supervisors looked beyond the needs of their own districts and at what was best for the county."

BOARD OF Supervisors Chairman Gerry Connolly said it's great to see this center come on line. "We're doing the best we can to provide services and facilities to the people of Sully District," he said. Joking, he added, "This is a wonderful day — I was in charge of the weather."

Del. Reese said the rec center's opening was the culmination of what began 12 years ago when the School Board purchased the land for Westfield High. "We didn't need it all for the high school, so we reserved it for a rec center and cultural center," he told the crowd. "And now it's time for you to get in there and for me to simply say, 'How sweet it is!'"

And sweet it was, indeed, for the hundreds of local residents who thronged to the rec center Sunday afternoon to check out and enjoy its many amenities. Dan Bizon of Clifton's Union Mill community said he plans to join it.

Working out on a treadmill, he said, "I like it because the equipment is new." He planned to do some weight training afterward and "maybe join a couple classes, like yoga." Wife Erin called the new center wonderful. "It's a great place for kids," she said. "My 16-year-old son wants to take martial arts and drama, and I want to take pilates. This is a beautiful facility — great for the community — and a good place for the kids during the summer."

"I think it's gorgeous, and I'm really excited for people in the Sully District to be able to come out here and enjoy this," said Mia Montgomery of Centreville's Bent Tree Apartments. "We have a 13-year-old, and I think she's going to enjoy the pool. And I'm looking forward to taking some classes. My job is stressful, so I want to take some yoga and BOSU [balance-training classes]."

Besides that, she said, "It's such a great, serene environment to be able to look out the windows and see the woodlands — it's just incredible. And it won't even feel like working out — it gives you the impression you're at a luxury spa on vacation."

SULLY STATION'S Cindy Gilbride called Cub Run "a real asset to the community." She, too, planned to use the exercise equipment. "I have all this equipment at home and I don't use it; so if I join, it'll be an incentive to work out," she explained. "And my nephew Brandon, 4, loves the pool. He wants to go home and get his bathing suit."

Samira Echeverri of Crofton Commons liked having a rec center so close to home. "When I moved to Centreville, I was looking for something like this for my kids," she said. Son Sebastian, 10, a Bull Run Elementary fifth-grader, called the new digs "amazing, spectacular. The workout room looks pretty nice, and also the pool."

Evan Hegan, 13, of Virginia Run used the leg-press machine and planned to return again. His sister Allie, 14, said she was surprised by the rec center's appearance: "I didn't expect it to be so nice."

"It's really cool — there's lots of things to do," said Zeina Ahmed, 13, a Franklin Middle seventh-grader. "The pool area has a lot of good slides and different activities. I'm pretty sure I'll come back here again."