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Florence Aquatic Center re-opens Saturday, first time since 2019

5k race fundraiser and food trucks highlight Saturday fundraiser
Posted at 11:38 PM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-27 23:38:21-04

FLORENCE, Ky. — Grab a towel, some sunscreen, and your bathing suit. The Florence Aquatic Center is reopening for the first time since 2019.

“It’s surreal actually. I feel like I’m in a dream sequence,” Jenna Kemper, one of the board members of NKY Swims, told WCPO 9 News. “Seeing all the families come together in a healthy, safe environment. Put your devices down. Enjoy the sun, the water, the slides, and the lazy river.”

It has been a long process to get to the point of opening Saturday. For the past few years, the city and some homeowners have been at odds with what the future of the aquatic center should be.

City leaders said the facility hasn’t turned a profit in its nearly 20-year history. In June 2021, city council was looking into how they could repurpose the facility to be open for more than 10-weeks per year. A splash park, amphitheater, and food truck destination were all discussed.

Homeowners who started a grassroots movement to keep the facility as-is said they wanted to gauge the community’s interest.

“We did a lot to convince the city that the community wants and needs this asset. The community responded,” Kemper said.

Florence city council voted in January to fund the facility for the 2022 season.

“They really underestimated the love of this facility by our community,” Brian Kinross added. “It’s like coming home. This is what we do in my family for the summer.”

Kinross also serves as a board member for NKY Swims, a non-profit organization which aims at providing aquatic recreation and education to those who might not be able to afford it.

“For those families who can’t afford to have their kids educated on how to swim properly. That’s a huge risk. We’re happy to help mitigate that risk. And help families with our services,” he said.

The organization will have a 5K race to kick-off funding for its mission. More than 40 people have signed up as of Friday evening. The race will take place Saturday at 8:30 a.m. starting at the Florence Aquatic Center. The cost is $25 to enter, and awards will be given to top finishers in age categories. Kinross says sign-ups can take place up until 8:10 a.m. Saturday.

Following the 5K race, food trucks will be outside of the aquatic center before it opens at 11 a.m.

Kinross says membership sales for the facility have doubled compared to 2019. He believes that’s a good start to a new future for the Florence Aquatic Center.

“We can think about what we can do this could potentially act as an aquatic center throughout the year. There’s great potential here to be realized. We’re just getting started,” he said.

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