Summer fun, here we come
Leisure World residents lined up in droves to attend the long-awaited unveiling of the GRF Aquatic Center, which was open for tours May 5. Colorful balloons strung across the pool blew in the breeze as scores of people filed in for a ribboncutting ceremony and surf band concert.
GRF President Susan Hopewell joined former GRF President Linda Stone, Recreation Committee Chair Leah Perrotti, former Recreation Committee Chair Kathy Rapp and Physical Property Chair Carole Damoci at the podium to cut the ribbon.
GRF Recreation Director Jesse Cripps introduced himself to the crowd—he recently replaced longtime Recreation Director Terry DeLeon—and then Perrotti took the podium to welcome everyone. She acknowledged the long and sometimes challenging task of building a state-of-the-art pool from a hole in the ground. It’s been a perfect storm of setbacks, almost from day one. What started out as a simple pool replaster, redecking and locker room repair immediately mushroomed into a down-tothe- bones facility overhaul.
As workers began unpeeling layers of 60-year-old construction in late 2019, they found deteriorated gas lines, corroded electrical wires in broken conduits, cracked sewer lines, misaligned plumbing pipes, rotted wall studs in locker rooms, and severe cracks in the pool and spa shells. There were no footings under concrete block walls among other defects. Work came to an abrupt halt as the GRF looked to hire an architect and engineers to design a whole new project, all amid an unfolding pandemic.
The COVID-19 crisis interrupted supply chains and project schedules due to staff shortages and work changes to protect people from the virus.
But last week, residents were cheerfully looking forward to a summer of poolside fun. The facility has five swimming lanes, a 30-by-30-foot activity area, a 9-by-25-foot spa, and new locker rooms and lounge area.
It is not yet open for swimming, as the final inspections are pending and last-minute finishing work is underway. New deck furniture and a sunshade are on order. GRF Physical Property Manager Kevin Black hopes the pool will be open for swimming by Memorial Day to kick off a summer of fun.
At the May 5 ribbon cutting, people seemed overjoyed that the pool is nearly swim-ready, and many praised its larger size, reconfigured hot pools and spacious locker rooms.
They danced and applauded Ventures Mania, featuring Deke Dickerson, and then moved to the Clubhouse 6 parking lot to keep the party going at a Cinco de Mayo celebration featuring a live mariachi band, Alas de Angel, tacos, virgin margaritas and more.
All seats were taken for the opening ceremonies.
A bird's-eye view of the new pool.