COOLIDGE — Coolidge residents now have an exciting new summer option coming out of the pandemic. As promised, the new aquatic center at the high school opened in time for Memorial Day weekend, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday afternoon.

“This is beautiful,” said Coolidge Unified School District Governing Board President Michael Flores. “We all look forward to enjoying it. I know our students are excited to swim and use the competition pool. So congrats to everyone who made this happen, and the community.”

Mayor Jon Thompson said the pool complex is exemplary of the kind of projects that could help attract new residents to Coolidge, or keep them as the city grows.

“The city of Coolidge will never move forward if we don’t have these top amenities so we can compete with other communities,” Thompson said. “When people look to relocate to a town, the first two things they look at are public safety and schools; I’m glad you all came out today.”

The new center features two pools, including an expanded competition pool for the high school, a rock climbing wall, younger swimmers’ pool and playground, as well as a signature water slide that towers over the complex.

According to City Councilman Eric Daniels, who was on the Coolidge High swim team before graduating in 2019, the new center is a major improvement.

“It was in bad shape,” Daniels said of the old pool. “It probably wouldn’t have lasted another summer. So this came right in time.”

Members of the lifeguard team were also impressed with the pool and ready to assist with safety at the facility. Grace Moak, who will lifeguarding for the first time, said the team is well trained and prepared for any possibility that might happen.

“I think this pool is great,” Moak said. “It’s awesome for the city of Coolidge and it’s going to bring a lot of swimmers.”

The previous pool was built in 1986. The new aquatic center was approved by a narrow margin in November of 2019. The center was designed and constructed by Haydon Building Corporation and Sunrise Engineering Inc.

Coolidge Parks and Recreation Director Ricky LaPaglia said the city expects hundreds of visitors during peak operating times over the summer — the facility has a capacity of just over 300. Expected to be a popular spot for residents, the pools are already booked through the summer for parties and special events.

The Aquatic Center will be open Tuesday to Sunday from 1:15 to 5:15 for open swim and will have water aerobics and lap swim hours Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m. to noon and Tuesday-Thursday from 7:15 to 8:15 p.m. However, LaPaglia said that if demand is enough, the city may extend open hours.

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Aaron Dorman is the Casa Grande reporter at PinalCentral, covering government, schools, business and more. He can be reached at adorman@pinalcentral.com.