By Lyra Bordelon
The Greenbrier Valley Aquatic Center will hold a “Drive-In Public Celebration” on Sunday, February 7, at 2 p.m., to give the community an update on the project, which is currently under construction.
The project has raised around $4 million of its $6 million goal for construction costs. In February 2020, Governor Jim Justice announced that a grant would bring the project to its $6 million goal, and construction began as pandemic shutdowns began. Director of Community & Donor Engagement Jamie Hamilton explained that since work has started, they have only given a few updates. The upcoming event looks to be more comprehensive.
“We haven’t been very vocal, we haven’t had as much to share,” said Hamilton. “We started to see people on social media reaching out with questions. … This is the first effort to bring the whole community and family around the project back together, thank them again.”
Hamilton said the project is looking to engage with the community more now that much of the foundation has been set.
“People have become a little disconnected – we had a lot of momentum and we were talking all the time with emails and updates. We had that ceremony in February  when the governor was there … It was fast and furious and people were highly engaged until about the first of March. Our timing and COVID happened all at the same time.”
The celebration is set at the aquatic center’s site near the State Fair of West Virginia grounds in Fairlea. For those concerned about COVID-19, the event requires “all guests [to] remain in their vehicles and listen to the program through a dedicated FM radio channel. To ensure the safety of all in attendance, windows need to remain closed and person contact with other guests must be avoided.”
Despite these protocols for the celebration, Hamilton looks forward to the now-forseeable future of something resembling the pre-COVID-19 normal, where the community would be able to enjoy the aquatic center it donated to create.
“I think that the magical element of this, and certainly not to make light of COVID and the suffering and terrible things, but our timing within COVID will probably be pretty darn close to perfect,” Hamilton said. “The big financial goal was tackled before it was a burden to everybody and our doors will open right as people are safe to go out and start being in groups and doing the things they’ve missed for a really long time. I think when this opens us, there will be a significant demand because gyms and workouts and community teams and all the things we just haven’t been able to do for so long, we check a lot of those boxes.”
For more on the event, come in your vehicle, or stay with the Mountain Messenger for more coverage.
“Please join us as we publicly thank our supporters, recognize our development partners, share construction updates, and more!” announced the aquatic center.