The Southlake YMCA has a new pool area featuring a 100-foot waterslide, a shallow water, zero-depth entry pool for small children, and a 25-year lap pool. There will also be an outdoor pool area. Staff photo by John J. Watkins
The Southlake YMCA has a new pool area featuring a 100-foot waterslide, a shallow water, zero-depth entry pool for small children, and a 25-year lap pool. There will also be an outdoor pool area. Staff photo by John J. Watkins
CROWN POINT — With its grand opening roughly a week away, the final touches are being added to the new Dean and Barbara White Southlake YMCA in preparation for little splashes and big-time fun.

The $34 million facility, which was added onto the existing Y, will be open for the public to enjoy and explore April 15.

“The Y is seen as a family place. This family place just got better and stronger,” Crossroads YMCA CEO Jay Buckmaster said Wednesday, while standing in the new indoor family pool area.

Deemed by staff as the “crown jewel,” the indoor aquatic center features a swirly, 100-foot water slide, a zero-depth entry leisure pool and aquatic playground, a sauna and whirlpool, and a 25-yard, handicapped-accessible, six-lane lap pool equipped with diving boards.

“There aren’t many pools you can just walk into. Young children will be able to explore more, learn how to swim … expose them to water to be able to make sure they are healthy and confident to lower the drowning rate,” Buckmaster said, adding that the Y is called “America’s swim instructor.” The nonprofit organization has been offering swimming lessons to local communities for more than 150 years.

Construction is wrapping up on the outdoor pool, too. It will include a climbing wall, diving board, private cabanas, a spray-and-play feature for families and lap swimming.

The outdoor pool is set to open Memorial Day, said Marketing Director Jill Schaffenberger.

In addition to its existing classes and programming, the Y plans to expand fitness opportunities, offering more versions of swim lessons, from parent-child classes to high-level, competitive aquatics and junior lifeguarding.

With safety as the top priority, Buckmaster said the pools will have 19 lifeguards on duty at a time to monitor and protect swimmers of all ages.

“It will be nice for families to come here and have the option to come in and out whenever they want,” Schaffenberger said, looking at the indoor zero-depth pool and play area equipped with brightly-colored water cannons and dumping buckets.

“You can already picture how fun this is going to be for the little kids, for the whole family. We want them to feel safe around water and have fun. It’s going to be great.”

The indoor and outdoor pools are only a portion of the 80,000-square-foot addition.

The Southlake YMCA will also include a wellness area with expanded group exercise facilities, functional training areas, a new cycle studio, personalized TV screens on the cardio equipment and a sports performance/turf area.

The gyms will have more youth sports for all ages, two gyms for open play and family time, and an indoor, one-sixth-mile track around the gyms and fitness area.

A Kids Zone/Kids Club filled with toys and a play gym will offer more interactive play and programming activities for young Y members.

A family game room, juice and coffee bar and large lobby and lounge area will also be open to explore.

“Sometimes we are just seen as a place to workout, but this really changes the paradigm,” Buckmaster said. “It’s not your 30-minute fitness center anymore. It’s your two-hour family fun destination.”

The new addition is only the first phase of what’s to come.

Starting April 11, the existing building will close and renovations will begin on that half. The existing pool area will be transformed into a gymnastics center, an early learning center will be added, and all the Y’s administrative offices will be moved to the facility.

Construction on the second phase will be complete in September.

“This is a destination YMCA,” Buckmaster said. “We will go from 12,000 to over 20,000 members in the next year.”

A community open house with tours of the new facilities will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 13. A special donor dedication ceremony will take place at 5:30 p.m. April 11.

“We are fortunate and blessed that the Dean and Barbara White Foundation saw the vision of providing a safe space for kids and families to stay active and healthy," Buckmaster said. "What an opportunity.”

The foundation contributed $21 million to the project, and other large donors gave about $10 million and the general public donated $3.4 million during the 2017 fundraising campaign.

© Copyright 2019, nwitimes.com, Munster, IN