Arlington Heights Park District unveils renovated rec center
A half century ago, it housed a shooting range.
But a refurbished Arlington Heights Park District recreation center is virtually unrecognizable from what it looked like even a year and a half ago.
The park district unveiled its renamed Arlington Ridge Center at Legacy Park during a VIP event Thursday night, following a $17 million renovation and expansion project that doubled the size of the former Olympic Indoor Swim Center. At nearly 100,000 square feet, the building at 660 N. Ridge Ave. is now the park district's largest indoor facility.
"It truly has elevated our park district game," park board President Maryfran Leno said during a ceremony inside a new 19,000-square-foot double gymnasium. "We are confident that it will certainly do the same for its members and for anyone looking to improve their health and well-being."
Many of the amenities in the renovated facility are the result of a 2017 community needs assessment survey, Leno said.
The building still houses the old six-lane, 25-yard lap pool, an activity pool and a 12-foot diving well -- now lit by LED bulbs and surrounded by a fresh coat of paint on the walls -- but the new aquatic addition is a warm-water pool (kept at 92 degrees) that will offer water exercise and swim lessons.
The new gymnasium is big enough to fit two high school regulation-sized courts, but the space also can be split into four smaller basketball courts, four volleyball courts and six pickleball courts.
It's surrounded by a suspended rubberized walking track, where 10½ laps equal a mile.
Next door on the second level is a 5,200-square-foot fitness center with elliptical machines, rowers, treadmills and weights. In total, there are some 70 pieces of workout equipment throughout the building.
As new locker rooms were built, the old ones were converted into two fitness studios for group classes.
Outside the building's new west side entrance, crews installed a new playground with artificial surface and two-hoop basketball court. Tennis courts and a skate park were removed, but one soccer field remains.
Also remaining on the north side of the park is Safety Town, and plans will be announced this spring to renovate it, according to Ben Rea, the district's director of parks and planning.
The lobby includes a Lasting Legacies wall of nine initial inductees who were honored Thursday: five "founding fathers" of the 95-year-old park district; Kevin Kendrigan, founder of the Northwest Special Recreation Association; Rob Lindgren, a teacher and aquatics coach; Bill Spicer, longtime president of the Arlington Heights Youth Athletic Association; and former Mayor Arlene Mulder, who began her public service on the park board in 1979.
The official public grand opening of the facility is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 31. Billed an "Elevation Celebration," the event will feature a balloon drop at 12:31 p.m.