Upper Valley Aquatic Center Completes Building Renovation
Grand Re-Opening Saturday, September 23
Meet the People Who Made It Happen
Most swimmers tend to specialize in a specific event. Once a breaststroker, always a breaststroker.
However, it never hurts to pick up a different stroke. A versatile swimmer is a valuable swimmer to a team. You never know when you might have to fill in for a freestyler, backup a backstroker or replenish a relay. The Upper Valley Aquatic Center (UVAC) also understands the need to diversify. Once a facility geared predominantly to the swimming set, UVAC, which opened its doors in February 2009, has just completed a four-million-dollar expansion and renovation that not only enhances the Center’s strength and cardio offering, but also includes new space for yoga, Pilates, physical therapy, more office space, a bigger childcare center, and a large family locker room with private changing suites.
“Part of our mission is to offer a wide range of high quality aquatic AND fitness programs,” said UVAC Executive Director, Richard Synnott. “As we became more involved with local hospitals, senior aging centers, physical therapy, wellness, and group exercise classes, it became evident that we needed to add space for those activities. Plus, our old locker rooms were not an ideal place for families who have children of various ages and genders. We wanted to satisfy those needs in the community as well.”
The project was truly a team effort that not only included a civic-minded board of directors who raised the funds, but also a dedicated staff and enthusiastic membership, whose input and ideas played a key role in making the expansion and renovation a reality. After compiling information through member surveys and social media, UVAC determined the space that was needed. Bread Loaf Construction, a design and build corporation based in Middlebury, VT had impressed the board with high-quality projects such as renovating the town offices of Hartford, construction of Hypertherm in Lebanon and the Northern Stage Theatre in White River Junction, and were brought aboard.
Dove-tailing programmatic requirements with property and zoning restrictions and budgetary goals, Bread Loaf went to work, breaking ground in September 2016. The nine-month project not only added 10,000 square feet to the Center, but renovated the existing structure to better serve an expanding, fitness-minded membership.
Chris Huston, Bread Loaf’s Vice-President for Architecture, was pleased with the project, lauding the Center and Synnott for its communication and feedback throughout the process, which allowed the Center to remain open through the renovation. Utilizing sophisticated 3-D software that required minimal changes resulted in a near seamless transition. “They were an outstanding partner,” said Huston, now in his 14th year working for Bread Loaf. “Rich was particularly adept at understanding the nature of construction, making informed decisions at the appropriate time to make sure things were streamline in the process from design all the way through construction.”
John Grainger, who has been ME Fitness Director at UVAC for seven and a half years, said the move went a lot easier than he expected. “I was shocked. We moved everything over in four hours. They had pieces coming in so fast; I hardly had time to tell them where to place it.”
Grainger used his expertise to purchase equipment, including new racks and cardio machines, remodeling an expanded fitness area that provides much-needed floor space and CrossFit opportunities. “The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “People love the space, the natural light and all of the color. It’s a really great workout atmosphere.”
The positive response is reflected in UVAC’s membership numbers. “Even during the summer months our membership, center usage, and group exercise attendance is up,” added Synnott.
Tom Elverson, a three-year member from West Lebanon, gives the Upper Valley Aquatic Center high marks for listening to its membership. “They really enhanced what they had,” he said. “They made a phenomenal place even better.”
“I love it,” said Lily Trajman. “I’m looking forward to trying the new weight and expanded cardio rooms,” she said. “They really put a lot of thought into the design. It makes for a great experience.”
“I’m sure a lot went into it behind the scenes. From a member and public standpoint, they enhanced the Center by providing additional services to the community,” said Pamela Kidder, a six-year member from Wilder, VT.
Huston agrees, “One of the most satisfying aspects of my profession is to bring these buildings to life so that people can use them for their intended purposes,” Huston said. “Capturing the vision of each of our unique client needs and desires is an exciting aspect of this profession.”
Synnott added, “We want to meet the demand of the community which is still growing. New families, young professionals, baby boomers and seniors all want to stay fit. I think we have been very successful incorporating the needs of everyone and making the Upper Valley Aquatic Center a place that not only fills the need of the swimmers in the area, but addresses the fitness needs of the community.”
UVAC will celebrate with a Grand Re-Opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony with exciting membership offers, free classes, free massage, bounce house, face painting, touch-a-truck, demos, scavenger hunt, Pie Auction by King Arthur, Wellness check-ins with APD Hospital, BE Fit Physical Therapy demos, Scavenger Hunt, BBQ by Poolside Cafe, and an Aqua Volleyball Challenge on Saturday, September 23 from 10am-2pm. Learn more here
By Stuart Kaufman — UVAC member, Grantham, NH resident, retired Sports Writer at Keene State College
Photo Credit: Alberto Rodriguez