Quinte Sports Centre expansion worth waiting for

Monstrous and somewhat friendly in a green way.

No, not Bruce Banner's alter ego The Hulk, but rather that's how one might describe the $33.7-million expansion to the Quinte Sports Centre that was slotted to be completed by the end of March.

But it will take a great deal of imagination to take a dip in the new Olympic sized pool, huge therapeutic pool, kiddie pool, run some laps on the new track, play some hoops in the new gym, or partake in any of the exercise room activities or even skate on the two new ice pads.

Imagination and a blindfold might also be needed.

Touring through the new expansion last Friday afternoon, even an unschooled contractor's eye could tell that the project is a long way from being opened to the public.

Peter Lyng, the city's facilities manager, led a half dozen people on a tour of the partially completed complex, during which he explained that the soft opening for the rinks at least would not be until fall.

"We have to have the rinks open by September, the rest we're looking towards the end of September or a little later," he said.

Regardless of the issues the construction has faced, derailing its timely completion, the sheer impressive size and function of the expansion was not lost on those touring as they gazed wide-eyed around the complex.

That same enthusiasm is mirrored by Lyng and Mark Wilson, manager of recreational services, who tagged along for the tour.

The smiles came easily to both men's faces as they proudly described the future uses of the facility.

Also along for the tour was city Councillor Egerton Boyce, Loyalist college placement students Julie Soule and Stephanie Newell and two other gentlemen.

Throughout the tour Lyng rhymed off the various features of the facility. He noted the heating system for the pool runs underneath the deck of the pool heating from below, pointing out the impressive size of the therapeutic pool and the accessibility of both pools for handicapped or disabled persons.

Standing outside the current rear of the facility and the old rear entrance to the Wally Dever Arena, he gestured to sheets of hanging plastic, explaining that these would be all glass and the new front entrance to the complex.

Stepping inside, watching as workers laid a set of temperature regulating tubes into the soon to be floor of the easternmost ice pad, he claimed with pride that the heat for spectators would come from the floor, no longer overhead space heaters like other arenas. The feat is accomplished by pumping warm liquid Glycol through the waving half-inch piping built into the floor.

That heat system is also taken to the second floor, where clears lines of sight from every vantage point allow spectators a good view of future action no matter their seat.

"No columns to obstruct anyone's view, you'll see everything in the game displayed here," he said.

The upstairs viewing room is designed with storage areas for teams and a clear vantage point to the ice below for any tournament or event organizers.

He said all told the expansion will increase the Quinte Sports Centre's current 173,000 square feet to almost double, somewhere above 300,000 square feet.

But Lyng proudly noted that extra space doesn't mean a bigger heating or air conditioning bill, as heat is reclaimed through the ice-making process, recycling 98 per cent of the heat for other areas of the building.

One area in particular Lyng noted was a planned outdoor picnic area, which will be semi-heated to keep the ground free of snow even in the dead of winter.

"It will not be heated out there, but people will be able to go out there without having to trudge through snow," he said.

In addition, $1.3-million solar panelling on the roof will generate more electricity than the current facility uses, but not more than the new and complete facility will.

A new food concession stand will be added, with a food preparation area akin to that of the stand at the current Wally Dever Arena, but the difference will be enough seating for 30 to 40 people.

"We are still waiting for RFPs (requests for proposals) for the food concession stand, so we don't know what will be there just yet," he said.

A new rubberized floor has been selected for the gymnasium, making it more shock absorbent and durable, "It will feel just like any other court," he said.

The gymnasium will also be able to seat over 500 people for gatherings. "It's the only one of its kind in this area," he claimed.

Pointing up to the steel girders above the gym, located in the middle of the southeastern expansion, Lyng said that both the yoga rooms and dry land training rooms will have windows overlooking the gym.

He added that with the children's pool and other activities the complex is expecting a higher volume of children, so he said to anticipate that security locks will be in place with pass only access allowed.

"A system very similar to the one used at the new YMCA in Quinte West," he explained. "

Gazing around the expansive addition, one had to wonder how many more jobs this would mean and in turn how much more this will cost taxpayers of the friendly city. Lyng's answer was "None."

He explained that by redistributing and assigning current staff more efficiently it can be accomplished with the current amount of staff.

"Our staff have embraced this. They are eagerly being trained to operate and maintain the new equipment themselves," he explained. "Some have already completed their pool training, soon almost everyone will be retrained."

Noting the dubious looks on a few faces he clarified that with the Memorial and Dick Ellis rinks closing, staff from there will be part of the team at the new complex.

"This makes so much more sense, just looking at it logistically, I won't have staff all over the city, just centralized here."

On a final note, Lyng said that plans were in place to convert the current parks and recreation office into a seniors centre.

"That will kind of round off the facility for all ages," he said.

After the tour, Boyce was asked if the complex lived up to what he imagined in council when artist's illustrations of the new centre were shown so long ago.

"That and more," he said. "This is truly going to be a place where residents of the city can come and enjoy for many years to come. It's a tremendous landmark for the city."

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Cheryl Davidson

Cheryl Davidson

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CENTURY 21 Lanthorn Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage*
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