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June 8, 2004 > A Cool New Play Spot!

A Cool New Play Spot!

Silliman Family Aquatic Center

by Arathi Satish

Newark's stunning Family Aquatic Center is scheduled for a Grand Opening on Saturday, June19, 2004 at 10.00 a.m. All are invited to take part in the guided tour and view the facility. This facility will be open everyday and represents a huge expansion of amenities for the George M. Silliman Community Activity Center.

The first phase of the Silliman Community Activity Center located on Mowry Avenue near Cherry Street, was completed in February 2000 and consists of a 36, 410- square-foot building with Gymnasium, Aerobic/Dance Studio, Fitness Center, Meeting Room, Teen Activity area, Child Care Room (licensed), Activity Room and Showers and lockers. Outdoor playfields extend the range of activities held throughout the day and evening.

Phase II of the center, a 32,230 square foot indoor swim facility began construction in September 2002. Specifically designed for recreation, fitness and instructional programs for the whole family, it promises to be the best of its kind in the western United States. The new center seamlessly connects to the initial structure, resulting in a 68,730-square-foot center with something for everyone.

The aquatic center will cater to the needs of everyone from toddlers to seniors regardless of outdoor weather conditions. A snack bar called Otter Alley CafŽ, named after the official mascot, the river otter, is located in the center's lobby along with the focal point, an art sculpture, courtesy of Fremont Bank Foundation, created by artist Dennis Smith of Highland, Utah. The sculpture, entitled "Keeping Up", depicts two children, towels trailing behind, heading towards the swimming pools while a smaller brother, swim mask and fins already on and a float tube over his arm, tries to keep up with his older siblings.

There are two Event Rooms available for rent for children's birthday parties, corporate events, and other functions. The rooms are separated by a movable partition so large parties can also be accommodated. Each room has direct access to the pool area. Locker rooms, including four private family locker rooms, also have direct access to and from the pool deck.

The Natatorium (a formal name for an indoor swimming pool, from the Latin word, "natator"), at almost 19,000 square feet, features four indoor pools, two water slides and a large water play structure. The immense area, 105' wide by 180' long, is free of interior supports or columns. This design maximizes light and minimizes noise. Reflective glass eliminates glare and restricts outside views into the Natatorium. A state-of-the-art chlorine control system is computer-controlled and automatically monitors air and water quality around the clock.

Two Water Slides dominate the Natatorium. They drop from a 20-foot-tall tower into a separate Splashdown Pool, one slide is a half chute and the other is a full, enclosed chute. Circling this pool is the Lazy River. The water current from three sets of water jets along the bottom of the channel propels swimmers on float tubes continuously around a 245-foot long run. One turn of the Lazy River features a virtual "waterfall" arching above the river which users can turn off or on at will. The opposite section of the river features a set of Tumble Buckets, which spill water randomly on drifters who pass underneath.

To one side of the Water Slides and Lazy River is a 25-yard, 4-lane Lap Pool, which provides opportunities for lap swimming, water aerobics, exercise classes and family water fun. This pool slopes from a depth at either end of 42 inches (3 1/2 ft.) to 54 inches ((4 1/2 ft.) in the middle. It is a rim flow gutter pool where the top of the water is level with the deck. An electric lift, donated by the Fremont Bank Foundation, will allow handicap access.

A unique12- person Warm-Water Spa, in the shape of the City logo provides a chance for water lovers to relax alone or socialize with others. Flooded with natural light, the spa is raised 18 inches above the surrounding deck to provide views of the rest of the Natatorium.

A unique pool at the aquatic center is the Activity Pool that measures 45-foot by 75-foot featuring a "zero depth" beach entry and many play features. The main attraction here is a large play apparatus called AquaPlay 350 manufactured by Whitewater. It features over 30 different water jets, 2 water guns, 2 slides, a cargo net climb, a waterfall, 3 overhead rope pulls, 6 different platforms, 7 interactive "Lemon Drops" and an Arch Fountain. This pool is sure to please children of all ages!

According to city officials, the budget for this project is approximately $14.3 million, including design, construction, inspection, testing, and furnishings. Financing was provided by a combination of Certificates of Participation and Capital Funds. Fees are reasonably priced. Admission fee includes use of the pool, gymnasium, fitness center, table tennis, air hokey, and foosball tables in the activity room. Passes are available too.

David Zehnder, Recreation and Community Services Manager, says, "People in Newark are really fortunate; most communities do not have the resources to build this kind of facility". He added," We are going to make a huge impact encouraging children to be water safe and adults physically fit. During special events held on Friday evenings, people can float on tubes and enjoy watching movies. It is remarkably creative and very affordable to individuals and families. We have already pre sold more than 200 passes".

For information of hours, rates, classes and group rates, call the Silliman Activity Center (510) 742-4400, look for a Newark Activity Guide or visit

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