"Wow" was the word Saturday morning as Carol Stream Park District and village officials toured the Fountain View Recreation Center under construction at Gary and Lies roads.
Wows for the pool and the geothermal heating and cooling system.
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Wows for the fitness center facing a manicured park, and the variety of spaces for special recreation, catering, group exercise classes and children's programs.
And wows especially to see the facility -- the park district's largest building project at $18 million and 90,846 square-feet -- inching closer to completion.
"I'm so excited to see what it'll be like," said Brenda Gramann, park board president, as she gazed at the pit dug where an eight-lane, 25-yard-long swimming pool soon will be installed.
While painting crews sprayed a white coating over the ceiling of the gymnasium, about 30 park district and village officials walked through the work in progress that is the Fountain View Recreation Center and saw how the different spaces will come together.
Entering from the main doors on the building's east side, users will walk into a wide hallway with a reception desk and children's area on their right and the pool on their left.
"That was one of the goals -- to make it open when you walk in," park board Commissioner Dan Bird said.
A "floating" main staircase up to the second level adds to the open-air feeling of the entrance, architect Frank Parisi said. The staircase "floats" because each stair is only a horizontal ledge, so those entering the building can gaze right through it.
Windows to the outside in each room and skylights atop the main corridor will allow natural light to filter in, helping the building achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification, Parisi said. The facility's geothermal system -- pumps that use underground air to moderate the building's temperature -- adds to its list of energy-saving features.
"It offsets the energy costs for heating and cooling the building," Parisi said.
Park District Executive Director Arnie Biondo said the building was designed with the capacity to host large gatherings from to weddings or basketball tournaments.
A gym on the first floor can be configured to provide three middle school-sized basketball courts or two high school-sized courts, while a three-lane track on the second floor circles the courts at eight laps to a mile.
Carol Stream does not have a true downtown. But Village President Frank Saverino said he thinks the Russ Ferraro Town Center, with the addition of the Fountain View Recreation Center, will serve the community just as well.
"A downtown isn't a draw. This is going to be a draw," Saverino said about the recreation center, scheduled to be complete in June with a soft opening possibly in August and a grand opening targeted for Labor Day weekend. "The people wanted it here. They did everything the right way and this is what you end up with -- the right thing."