Port City Notebook

News, views and random observations around Alexandria

What’s New and Different at Chinquapin?

The Chinquapin Recreation Center and Aquatics Facility re-opened earlier this month with a community celebration hosted by the Parks and Recreation Department and the Chinquapin Advisory Council.

The building was closed in mid-June for major renovations and upgrades: replacing some of the key components of the HVAC system; new entrance doors and doors from the pool deck to locker rooms and office; new lockers; new paint and ceilings throughout; solar film on skylights; new sand filter tank for pool; electronic bulletin board; and in partnership with the Chinquapin Advisory Council, video surveillance equipment in the fitness room.  There’s also new lettering on the sign to clarify for visitors that the facility includes a swimming pool.


A large and enthusiastic crowd attended the re-opening celebration, and both kids and adults enjoyed the free swim time and demonstrations. The Chinquapin Wahoos summer swim team (2013 Colonial Swim League Gold Division Champions), Potomac Marlins (year-round swim club that’s part of Potomac Valley Swimming ), T.C. Swim & Dive team, and the Advocates for Alexandria Aquatics also participated. Not only was there a great vibe in the air, but the air quality itself was noticeably improved, thanks to the HVAC work.

Still to come are a new roof for the entire facility, new LED lighting, new skylights (including those in the natatorium), new flooring in the locker rooms, and a new reception desk/counter.

But the most exciting news about Chinquapin is that later this month the city will award a contract for a consultant study to determine the feasibility of adding a 50-meter competition pool to the facility. As lovely as Chinquapin may have been when the ribbon was cut in 1985, it has never been used for swim competitions because it was constructed a few inches too short. Consequently, the T.C. Swim & Dive team hosts all of its home meets at rented pools in Fairfax County. Moreover, because of the growing popularity of competitive swimming among both children and adults and with long waiting lists for swim classes, Chinquapin does not have the capacity to keep up with the demand for lane space.

The feasibility study was included in the city’s Capital Improvement Program budget this past May as part of a $22.5 million package to address the deteriorating state of aquatics facilities in Alexandria. Of that amount, $17 million will be used to build a new 50-meter competition pool at Chinquapin (assuming it passes the feasibility test) that would open in 2017 and to turn the existing pool into a multi-purpose recreation pool. The remaining $5 million would be used for other aquatics facilities around the city, such as a therapeutic pool at the Lee Center, a new pool at the Old Town facility, or a new pool or sprayground at Warwick.

After the contract for the feasibility study is awarded, we will know within 30 days if the Chinquapin site can accommodate a 50-meter pool. The completed study, with two options for consideration, will be available three months later.

In the meantime, the city would like input from the public about the future of the Chinquapin Park Recreation Center and Aquatics Facility and invites residents to participate in a survey at http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1434656/What-s-Next-for-Chinquapin-Park-Recreation-Center-amp-Aquatics-Facility.  The deadline to complete the survey is Friday, November 29.

Also, if you would like to join a citizen group that’s advocating for improved aquatics facilities in Alexandria, sign up here: http://alexandriaaquatics.com/

Related links:
Potomac Marlins: http://www.potomacmarlins.com/
Chinquapin Wahoos: http://www.teamunify.com/Home.jsp?_tabid_=0&team=reccscwva


Worth Reading
Tracy Grant, the “Momspeak” columnist in the Washington Post Local Living Section, wrote last week about standards-based grading and the new ACPS elementary school progress reports (which I covered in my September 18 post). As a mother of two high-school seniors, Grant provides an interesting perspective. Her message in a nutshell: Worry less about whether your third-grader is getting 3s or 4s and focus on whether your child seems to love learning.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/grades-arent-the-point-of-school-learning-is/2013/11/05/c652cb30-39cc-11e3-a94f-b58017bfee6c_story.html

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