WEED BUILT THIS: Posh $30M rec center paid for with pot-tax money coming in May with eye-popping features

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The Central Recreation Center will open to the public mid-May.
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

AURORA | When it comes to modern rec centers, there’s state-of-the-art, and then there’s art.

The city’s newest rec center will open in May as Aurora’s masterpiece, dubbed the Central Recreation Center. The $30 million center is being funded with taxes collected on the purchase of recreational marijuana.

This seriously swank rec center at 18150 E. Vassar Place boasts features more likely found at amusement parks and private clubs.

The aquatic center at the Central Rec Center features a lazy river, indoor wave pool, water slide, kiddie pool and lap pool and holds 184,223 gallons of water.
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

Some amenities, city officials say, are the first of their kind in the country.

The 60,000-square-foot building, perched on 22 acres has many expected offerings, traditional gym equipment like free weights and treadmills. 

But the centerpiece of the center is the pool and water slide. The swimming area of the Central Rec Center holds 184,223 gallons of water. That water is distributed among a lazy river, a lap pool, a kiddie pool area, Colorado’s first indoor wave pool and a water slide that city officials say is the first of its kind.

This slide is completely interactive, with different neon lights that line the interior of the slide and its confusing twists and turns.

The slide starts on the inside of the building, swings to the exterior, and then back into the pool.

Imported hand-painted German glass is seen in the aquatic center, reflecting in the lazy river, March 12 at the Central Rec Center.
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

But the technology doesn’t stop there. The filtration system for the aquatic area is top-of-the-line, using an Ultra Violet sterilization method for cleaning the water, which in-turn uses less chlorine while making it more sanitary than traditional pool water.

The center is all about options, rec officials said.

Visitors can choose between two aerobics rooms, which will offer a variety of classes. Yoga is available both indoors and outdoors.

The rec center offers full-court basketball with the option of splitting the area into half courts, depending on activities and needs.

Big is one thing, but no other set of municipal boards offers what this one does.

The exterior wall features hand-painted imported German glass.

In the showers, locker rooms and restrooms, the walls are lined with imported Italian tile.

The aquatic center at Central Rec Center as seen from the work-out area of the rec center.
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

Above the basketball court is an indoor track for walking and running when the inevitable Colorado cold or wet descends on Aurora and a run in the single-digit weather has no appeal.

Central offerings stretch the definition of recreation far beyond the usual.

Cooking classes are offered in the center’s state-of-the-art kitchen, which includes Viking ranges, a full walk-in cooler and walk-in freezer.

The center also has an “escape room.” Alone, with groups or friends, patrons must solve puzzles for clues that lead to “escape.”

All this was the brainchild of about 200 Aurora residents polled on what they wanted in a rec center: everything.

Land for the center was purchased in 1998. Construction began in 2017 after recovering from the economic downturn in the mid-2000’s.

“This project has gone so well,” said Kendall Koca, the project manager for Aurora Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces.

“It’s the smoothest project I’ve ever been on.”