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Little Something for Everyone

New Rec Center Taps into Families' Needs

When Loudoun County residents walk into the new Claude Moore Recreation Center for the first time, their jaws might drop. There’s a 150-foot, bright blue water slide and spinning vortex to the right and a 28-foot-high rock-climbing wall to the left. Directly behind the friendly faces of the welcome center, there’s a fitness area with more than a dozen ellipticals, treadmills and stationary bicycles. An elevated track lines the ceiling above the fitness center.

On Saturday, March 31, Diane Ryburn, director of Parks, Recreation and Community Service, will welcome residents into the 84,000-square-foot facility for the first time since construction workers broke ground in Jan. 29, 2005. Foundation construction began in March 2005 and a "topping out" ceremony took place when the building reached its full height, Ryburn said, in September 2005.

The grand opening will begin at 10 a.m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony. There will be aerobics demonstrations, sports activities and sports celebrities on hand from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Residents will have an opportunity to sign up for year-long memberships or a 25-admissions booklet, swim classes and rental space for future parties.

FUNDING FOR the $24 million facility was a combination of voter-approved general obligation bonds from the November 2001 referendum and cash proffers.

There’s a huge demand for swimming-pool space in the county from the public school system and private swim clubs, so the Board of Supervisors designated an additional $1.8 million from the fiscal tear 2004 fund balance to increase the size of the 37-meter competition pool to 50 meters.

The Olympic-size pool will house swim teams from all of Loudoun County Public Schools, free of charge, and four private swim clubs.

"[The Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Service] is a big user of Loudoun County Public Schools facilities," Ryburn said. "It is a great opportunity to give back to the school system."

For residents who do not want to swim laps, there is a leisure area complete with an eight-person spa and a water park with small slides and water shoots. A spiral staircase leads up to the leisure-pool area’s main attraction, the bright blue slide.

Lifeguards will be on hand at all times, and Ryburn said, they are always looking for more of them.

THE NEW FACILITY has 31 full-time employees, including its director ,Sky Dantinne, who formerly led the Sterling Community Center, and assistant manager Ralph Beard, who formerly worked at Franklin Park in Purcellville and was in charge of its pool.

Dantinne said the space is unique because of its size and all that it has to offer.

"With all these spaces come all these classes," Dantinne said. "There’s something for everyone."

There are plans for scuba, water aerobics and fitness classes in the works. Staff has already signed up a number of children for soccer, basketball, baseball, T-ball, gymnastics and swim classes that range from around $50 to $130 per session.

Down one of the halls is an activities room where walls are lined with computers, a pool table, jukebox and a flat-screen television.

"We’re trying very hard to attract the teens," Ryburn said.

That shouldn’t be too hard.

In addition to the activities room, where teenagers have the opportunity to bring in DVDs from home and watch them on the large television mounted on the wall, there are basketballs courts and a volleyball net in the gym.

The rock wall, which is supervised at all times, has five different paths for climbers of all different levels. The wall, which allows three climbers at a time, was handmade and "looks real," Dantinne said.

"It’s built so more experienced climbers don’t have to use the holes [to climb]."

THE RECREATION CENTER is part of Claude Moore Park, which is made up of 357 acres of open spaces, hiking trails, wetlands, meadows and forests. Moody Nolan Ltd. incorporated the park's rustic feel into the design of the new facility, which includes a silo, exposed walls and antique-looking light fixtures.

Daily admission for an adult is $5.50 for residents and $8.25 for nonresidents. A one-year membership for a single adult is $550 for residents and $850 for nonresidents.

While Ryburn said they do not offer discounts yet, they are looking at ways to do so in the future.

The projected annual operating cost of the facility is $1.9 million.

Steve Sawyer, division manager of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, said the county hopes to bring in enough revenue, through admission and rental fees, to break even at the end of the year.

Every activities room and classroom, he said, is available to rent.

There are party packages for families with small children, which includes access to a party room and the pool area that range from $100 to $150.

THE SECOND PHASE of the two-part project will be completed in December. Once it is finished, the 9,000-square-foot addition will house a new Sterling Annex, which is currently located in a 1930s schoolhouse on Shaw Road in Sterling.

Dantinne said the Sterling Annex addition will further enhance the new recreation center’s class offerings.

One of the Annex’s most popular programs is its licensed preschool for children between the ages of 18 months and 4 years old.

"The addition will bring something unique to Northern Virginia, child care," Dantinne said. "It really will be one-stop shopping."