By Jason Wesseldyk
Nearly two years after Otsego Public Schools broke ground on its new aquatic center, the facility is nearing completion.
And the district is inviting the public to a sneak peek during an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 24.
OPS superintendent Jeff Haase is eager for the opportunity to showcase the aquatic center.
“We are at a point in the construction process to share the excitement of what this facility has to offer our students, families and community,” Haase said.
Funds for the aquatic center were secured through the passage of a millage in May 2020. The groundbreaking ceremony took place in October 2021 and the project is slated for completion in November.
“I hope people will notice the design and detail that went into this facility and the possibility of what this can provide for our students, athletes, staff, families and community,” Haase says. “Our community supported this with the bond passage, and it’s truly exciting to show them our almost-completed OPS Aquatic Center.”
As part of the open house, guided tours will take place every 10-to-15 minutes. The tour will highlight the building entry, the community room, locker rooms, family changing rooms, the expanded spectator seating for 500, the natural light throughout the facility and several safety and air-quality features of the new aquatics center.
The event will feature a gallery walk of photos that highlight the construction process from beginning to end. Information on the new center’s programming and hours will also be featured.
Since construction is still in progress, only the first floor is handicapped accessible at this time. An elevator will be fully operational at the grand opening that will take place once the project is complete.
OPS aquatic center director Maggie Darnell said the new facility will allow the district to offer significantly more programming to both students and community members.
“This new, staffed, accessible aquatic center will allow us to resume school (physical education) swim units for third grade and up, as well as offer group and private lessons year-round,” Darnell said. “We will also be able to offer programs during the day for our virtual students and area homeschool families to attend, as well as offer programs for the community.
“By introducing swimming and diving to more families, we will be able to grow our club team—the Otsego Swim Club—and, in turn, our high school teams.”
The new facility will also enable Otsego to host larger swim meets and events that the old facility was unable to accommodate.
“This will bring people from all over Michigan to our community, allowing us the opportunity to showcase our lovely hometown,” Darnell said.
Darnell said promoting water safely will be a priority for those connected to the aquatic center.
“I am so excited to be a hub for water safety in the area,” she said. “We are planning on offering a variety of lessons and safety certifications.”
To that end, the OPS is planning to expand its instruction staff at the aquatic center. If you are interested in learning more about employment opportunities, contact Darnell at firstname.lastname@example.org.