If all goes according to schedule, members at the Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club will be getting a renovated pool for Christmas.
Construction began over the summer and is expected to be completed by Dec. 1. According to Wayne Piazza, the club’s general manager, the new pool will better accommodate members since the makeup of the club’s membership has changed over the years.
“Way back in the day, we had a swim team that utilized the pool. We no longer have a need for them, but members will still have access to their swim lanes,” Piazza said.
The old liner pool is being replaced with a hard-shell pool. The project will cost over $2 million, a bill that won’t be passed onto members. Owner and operator of the club, Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, is picking up the tab.
The major change members will notice, outside of aesthetics, is the division between swim lanes and the water aerobics area. The swim area is being reduced from eight to five lanes, and the water aerobics area will more than double in size from 625 square feet to 1,800 square feet.
“Over the course of a good, strong season, we looked at the utilization of those lanes and how many were used at any given time, and the average was three. At no time did we have more than four,” Piazza said. “So the eight lanes we had were just overdone, we could’ve used that space for aerobics.”
Resident Thomas Knierim disagreed with Piazza’s assessment and said he’s seen from four to eight lanes full. The 91-year-old swims at the club every morning before the sun hits the pool. He submitted his own design he said could accommodate all eight lanes and still enlarge the aerobics area, but Knierim said it would require taking away space from the steps and wouldn't look as pretty.
"Whether I'll stay with the athletic club or not, I don't know, but they've made up their minds as to what they're going to do," Knierim said. "I appreciate the manager sending me an email, but they're not changing anything."
Piazza said the new pool will meet the “dire need” for more aerobics space. The classes and capacity weren’t able to keep up with the members. In addition to larger class sizes, the schedule will include more classes once the new pool opens.
The pool will also include shade sails to block the sun during classes and a new paver pool deck.