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New Cary aquatic center, Sunburst Bay, set to open in June

Older pool scheduled to be demolished later this year, park district officials say

Construction continues on the new Sunburst Bay Aquatic Center that is scheduled to opening this summer. The center is designed to support interests of toddlers to seniors and is located at Cary-Grove Park.

Going to the new Sunburst Bay Aquatic Center in Cary after it opens in June will be one of the best activities for area kids coming out of the pandemic, Cary resident Eric Zilch said.

“Some kids lack confidence right now,” Zilch said. “They were stuck at home, but swimming can help you regain confidence in your ability to do something new. It gives you the opportunity to learn something and figure it out, just like going and facing people all over again.”

Cary Park District residents got a fresh look at the new Sunburst Bay Aquatic Center when the park district released a summer preview on Monday, outlining the pool site’s amenities, summer hours and events calendar.

“We are really excited about the new pool,” said Heather Zilch, Eric’s wife. “The walk-in pool is going to be really nice for young kids.”

The couple have three kids, and Heather Zilch said the whole family is excited to use the pool and take swimming classes this summer.

Another Cary resident, Donna Byers, said that the new site looked “unbelievable” even still under construction.

“I think it’s going to draw a lot of people from other communities,” Byers said, who said her grandson will be a lifeguard there when it opens.

Cary Park District Executive Director Dan Jones expressed satisfaction with how the project had unfolded across a range of issues, including the project’s budget and final design.

The official opening date was announced in the district’s summer brochure as June 18, which was on schedule with what had been planned.

The pools still were dry, but the slide structures were up and the locker rooms and changing areas were nearing completion when the Northwest Herald visited the site this week.

“This is a legacy project for the community that will serve it will for the next 40 years,” Jones said. “The district spent a considerable time to design and develop a facility that will appeal to all ages.”

Plans for the project began in 2016 and were included in the district’s comprehensive master plan that year, according to a history of the pool project outlined on the park district’s website.

The concept went through extensive community review over the past few years.

Construction continues on the new Sunburst Bay Aquatic Center that is scheduled to opening this summer. The center is designed to support interests of toddlers to seniors and is located at Cary-Grove Park.

The aquatic center will have an eight-lane pool and climbing wall plus an aquatic park with a zero-depth entry area, water slides, spray features and numerous shady areas, according to the district’s website. The site also will have a snack shack, party room for events, and sand volleyball courts just outside the pool area.

Construction for Sunburst Bay began in June. The district is on target to come in at or below its planned budget of $12.7 million, Jones said.

The old pool at the community center, built in 1971 at a time when Cary’s population was much smaller, is set to be demolished later this year, although the community center will remain, Jones said.

Reflective of the growing community, Sunburst Bay will have a capacity of 1,000 compared to 650 at the old pool site, Jones said.

After what Jones described as an “aggressive” recruitment process, the district is not expecting any staffing issues with lifeguards or operational staff.

For planned hours of operation, information about registration and season passes, as well a list of events like fitness classes, go to Sunburst Bay’s website and 2022 summer guide.