URBANA — Construction of what is now a $9.1 million family aquatic center at Crystal Lake Park, aided by relatively mild and dry weather, is ahead of schedule, according to the director of the Urbana Park District.
The aquatic center is projected to open next June 1 on the same site as two earlier versions of Crystal Lake Pool, a facility that dates to 1927.
The aquatic center, actually three separate water surfaces and accompanying play areas, now will include a 17-foot-high climbing wall that is expected to be an attraction for middle and high school students.
"It's called an AquaClimb Sport (http://www.aquaclimb.com/prod-sport.php) and it's 17 feet tall and it curves out over the water so that as you're climbing you eventually get to a point where you're leaning backward and you can't go any farther and you just drop into the water," said Vicki Mayes, executive director of the park district. "It will be in the deep well (pool) with a one-meter diving board and a fast, high-energy slide that empties into it."
In August, the climbing wall was removed from the list of aquatic center features when construction bids came in over estimates. But private fundraising from individuals and families has allowed the $86,700 feature to be restored.
"We're about $10,500 short of our fundraising goal for it, but we still have money coming in," she said. "We'll still accept any donations.
"But we needed to go ahead and order it because we needed to have it fabricated and delivered in time to install it before we open next summer."
Now all of the features that had been proposed for the aquatic center earlier this year — including an irrigation system on the facility's grounds, parking lot resurfacing, an enclosed water slide, a "sprayground," a streambed feature and the climbing wall — will be a part of the project.
"The construction is going well. We've had wonderful weather," Mayes said. "The floor of the competition pool has been poured. The walls are framed up for the competition pool and we expect to being pouring concrete there soon.
"They have gotten almost all the masonry work done for the three buildings — the filter house and the two bathhouse buildings. The steel supports are set for the bathhouse buildings. The beams are set and they've begun to install the roof decking."
In some areas construction is on schedule; in others it's ahead of schedule.
"This is actually great construction weather they've been working in," said Mayes.
As of Thursday morning, December temperatures were 13 degrees above normal and precipitation for the month totaled less than 1.5 inches. Although September and October rainfall was above average, November temperatures were near normal and rainfall was well below average.