URBANA — Delayed for more than a month, Urbana's $9.1 million Crystal Lake Park Aquatic Center finally will open Thursday.
The Urbana Park District received approval Wednesday morning from inspectors for the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and the city of Urbana, permitting it to open the pool at 9:30 a.m.
Swimming will start around 10:15 a.m., after various "First Ride Down the Slide" raffle winners take their turn on slides, play equipment and special features.
Normal pool hours are 12:30 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday (season passholders can enter 30 minutes earlier) and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Daily admission to the pool, at 1401 N. Broadway Ave, U, is $6 for Urbana residents and $9 for non-residents. Punch cards for five and 10 visits and season passes will also be available at the gate.
The facility's grounds will be without grass for about two weeks, said park district Executive Director Vicki Mayes, but all of the pools, slides and water features will be open.
"We don't have grass and sod laid yet, but there's plenty of deck space and we hope everyone enjoys the swimming," Mayes told The News-Gazette on Wednesday. "Everything's in working order. This is very exciting for us. We can't wait to open tomorrow morning."
The aquatic center has a deep water pool, a recreation pool and eight-lane competition pool and a number of active features, including slides, flumes and a 17-foot-high climbing wall for older children and a streambed and sand play area for younger ones.
The opening of the pool was delayed early in May primarily by wet spring weather and later by the need to complete the gutter systems around the edge of the pools.
"Just getting the gutters finished was what was primarily holding it up," Mayes said. "That's what gets the water into the filtration system, and that's an absolute public health requirement."
The weather for the pool's opening has taken a turn for the better, Mayes noted. After four consecutive days with high temperatures less than 80 degrees, the weather forecast is for highs in the 80s for the foreseeable future.
"It looks like it's going to be great weather, all weekend, which is really nice for us," Mayes said.
Pool patrons may bring their own food in a soft cooler, although no glass or open bottles are allowed. A cooler check station will be outside the pool entrance.
Patrons may also purchase snacks and drinks from vending machines. A vending machine with often forgotten supplies, including swim diapers, sunscreen and goggles, also is at the facility.
Water wings and floaties are not permitted; only Coast Guard-approved flotation devices.
The aquatic center was built on the site of two earlier Crystal Lake pools. The first was built in 1927 at a cost of $152,000. The second was built in 1980 and closed abruptly during the summer of 2008 over concerns about the pool's electrical systems. Urbana has been without a public outdoor pool since that time.
The new facility is being built primarily with property tax revenue. In April 2011, Urbana voters approved, by a 62 percent to 38 percent margin, an 11-cent increase in their property tax rates to help finance the project.