Center reopens after 3-month shutdown
By Scott Bellile
Swimmers will breathe cleaner air now that the New London Aquatic and Fitness Center completed its most extensive upgrade in its 37-year history.
The pool celebrated Sunday, June 10, with a ribbon cutting, free public swim and tour of the building. New London Aquatic and Fitness Center’s doors were closed to the public from March 12 until June 4 for a $1 million mechanical system update.
Public Services Director Chad Hoerth said it was important to walk taxpayers throughout the building on Sunday because otherwise they might not notice the mechanical upgrades, which occurred mostly behind the scenes.
During a speech, Hoerth gave an overview of the key updates.
“We upgraded the ventilation system and installed new technologies for much better air quality,” he said. “We installed a new heating system. Now we have two boilers that are going to be cycling with each other so if one boiler would go down for some reason, we have a second one to back ourselves up so we have less downtime. We installed a new heating system in the locker rooms where our regular female users know that the women’s locker room was pretty chilly in the dead of winter. We installed new energy-efficient elements like those new high-efficiency boilers, new windows and the new pool blankets, which we should see some really nice benefits from.”
David Morack, chairman of the New London City Council, thanked residents for their patience and support during the closure.
“This afternoon as you enter the building, you may notice the water seems a little clearer, the air doesn’t smell so much like chlorine, and this winter, hopefully those restrooms will be much warmer than what they’ve been in the past,” Morack said.
Hoerth and Building and Grounds Superintendent Ted Christian highlighted specific amenities during facility tours.
The variable-frequency drives in the upstairs HVAC room can detect the building’s air temperature and pressure and modulate the motors and fans as needed.
“Now this new air handling system we have senses the air pressure of the building, the humidity of the building, automatically sucks in as much fresh air as we need, exhausts the bad air,” Christian said. “It’s state of the art what we have now compared to what we had.”
Another new feature is maintenance crews can adjust the air settings in different areas of the building, Hoerth said. For example, staff will no longer deal with chloramine corroding electronic equipment in the office because the room can be set to a positive air pressure environment that won’t be infiltrated by pool air.
The filter room has a new ultraviolet light system that removes 99 percent of bacteria and viruses from the water and improves the chlorine smell.
That room also contains a digital system that Christian can use to monitor pH levels, temperatures, chlorine levels and flow rate as well as receive mobile notifications.
“Now I’m fortunate enough that when we do have a problem at 2 in the morning, the alarm will go off and it will notify my phone and I can get up at 2 in the morning and come in and fix what’s wrong, rather than come in at quarter to 6 in the morning when we’re supposed to open at 6 and try to fix what’s wrong then,” Christian said.
Several changes patrons might notice in the main areas of the building are:
• The ceilings now contain energy-efficient LED lighting.
• The blue waterslide was removed to accommodate the new pool filtration system.
• Staff painted aquatic-themed artwork on the tan waterslide.
• Staff grouted the tile floors in the men’s locker room and inside the swimming pool.
• The swimming pool has two disability pool lifts and the whirlpool has one to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
• Walls have been repainted.
The structure was built in 1980 and until now, many of the components that kept it running were from the original construction.