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City, JRC plan swimming pools

Next stage of JRC-the Alaska Club expansion is a pool

Posted: Friday, November 26, 2004

JRC-the Alaska Club has finished two phases of expanding its Mendenhall Valley facility. Now it plans to add a swimming pool.

The private fitness club is not alone. The city also plans to build a swimming pool in the Valley. But neither project has a definitive time frame yet.

The city has discussed building a pool at the proposed community center in Dimond Park.

"When we purchased Dimond Park in 1986, we purchased the land with an idea of having a library and an aquatics facility," said the city's chief architect, Catherine Fritz. "It's not just a swimming pool. It would have a slide, a spa, diving boards and a sauna."

However, a funding source for the project is still unknown. The Assembly Finance Committee has asked city staff to explore a scaled-down version, with six lanes instead of the standard eight.

"The specific scope of the project hasn't been worked out," Fritz said. "If we can pass a ballot measure in 2005, the community center would be open within three years."

JRC-the Alaska Club has acquired 3 acres of lands right behind its valley club to build a swimming pool. The pool building will consist of a lap pool that can be used for lap swimming, recreation and water aerobics. The pool also will have a 50-foot slide, an area for beginners and family locker rooms.

The swimming pool is part of the private fitness enterprise's plan to expand its Valley club, which offers activities ranging from basketball and yoga to group cycling classes.

"We have had a constant stream of requests by our members to have a pool," said Gail O'Dell, general manager of JRC-the Alaska Club. "Our clubs in Anchorage and Fairbanks have a swimming pool. It has been a very successful part of our enterprise. We know it will be successful here as well."

O'Dell said she doesn't know when the club will construct the swimming pool. "We are still waiting for answers from the owners in Anchorage."

City Architect Fritz said consultants for the Dimond Park Community Center project said if both JRC-the Alaska Club and the city both open a swimming pool in the valley, they would complement each other rather than hurt each other's business.

"We serve very different clientele," Fritz said. "A community recreation center serves beginners and families. When people want to make swimming part of their lifestyle, they go to a private club, where they might get massage, hot towels or aroma therapy."

Fritz said when a public recreation facility is installed, it normally ends up increasing membership of private business because it generates the public's interest in fitness and exercise.

• I-Chun Che can be reached at ichun.che@juneauempire.com.



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