HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — A growing hub of public facilities along a stretch of Laburnum Avenue in eastern Henrico County is set to add lap lanes and flip turns to the mix.
County officials and the YMCA of Greater Richmond on Tuesday announced plans to develop an $8 million, 20,000-square-foot aquatics facility on county-owned land beside the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center.
The 6-acre site, across Watts Lane from the center, would include an eight-lane, 25-yard competition-style pool and a warm-water instructional pool with zero-depth entry, a waterslide and a family spray area. The facility also would include locker rooms, retractable spectator seating and parking.
Henrico will lease the property for 20 years to the Y, which will build the facility with $8 million in county funds and manage it as part of its local network. Following funding and lease approvals slated to start next month, construction would start in March, with the facility opening in early 2020.
County Manager John Vithoulkas said the project came about after county supervisors expressed a desire for a recreational pool at their board retreat in January. The Y was identified as a management partner, and a nearly $27 million surplus from last fiscal year’s budget made it possible to go forward with the project, Vithoulkas said.
“All of those things came together,” he said. “Ultimately the thanks goes to the Board of Supervisors for laying the challenge and pushing the staff to a place where we did not think we could get to just one year ago.
“In the past five years, we’ve had 35 incidents where a child has either drowned or nearly drowned, and that is entirely unacceptable,” Vithoulkas said, describing the facility as the county’s latest effort to “drown-proof” Henrico.
In addition to the Y’s pool-based programs, the facility is expected to accommodate practices and meets for county high school swim teams and youth summer camps. Vithoulkas and Amy Cashwell, superintendent of Henrico County Public Schools, also indicated potential expansions to school programs that could see Henrico participate in the Y’s “Learn to Swim” campaign that provides free lessons to second-graders.
“Up to this point, we have not been able to do it in Henrico County,” said Tim Joyce, president and CEO of YMCA of Greater Richmond. “But now, because of conversations and future partnerships with the public schools, we’re excited about what can happen there.”
Joyce said the project involved months of discussions with county staff and support from the local philanthropic community. Among those in attendance for the announcement was Bobby Ukrop, though a county spokesman said Ukrop is not affiliated with the project.