By Season Osterfeld, Fort Riley Public AffairsJuly 7, 2017
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- "Cannonball!" Fort Riley Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. James Collins yelled as he leapt from the high diving board into the pool at Custer Hill Aquatic Park. Giggles and shrieks immediately followed from more than 90 children with School Age Services who took Collins' dive as the green light to enter the pool and came rushing into the water from the zero-entry slope.
The Custer Hill Aquatic Park had its grand opening with speeches from Col. John D. Lawrence, Fort Riley garrison commander and Scott Scherberger, Recreation Division chief, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, a surprise cannonball from Collins and a buoy cutting in place of a traditional ribbon cutting June 30.
"What you see in front of you is another example of the level of emphasis we put on taking care of the Soldiers, families, civilians and retirees who call Fort Riley their home," Scherberger said. "Over the last five years we have made many changes to Custer Hill Pool. In 2012, we added the ADA (American Disability Act) accessible splash pad … In 2016 the old pool house was demolished and replaced with the new structure … And finally in 2017 the pool has been totally renovated, looking much different today than it did when it closed on Aug. 15, 2016 for work to begin."
The new aquatic park has a zero-depth entry in the main and baby pools, a lazy river, water slides, two diving boards and more. In total, there are 520,000 gallons of water in the park, he said.
"Facilities like the new Custer Hill Aquatic Park are part of our commitment to make Fort Riley home; to provide terrific recreation opportunities for our Soldiers and families; to make life here more than training and working and deploying," Lawrence said.
Programs like Bubble Guppies, Aqua Zumba, Fitness Hour and more will be relocating to the Custer Hill Aquatic Park from Eyster Pool, he said.
"This updated facility will provide recreation and opportunities to build resilience but also physical and safety training," Lawrence said. "As Scott mentioned, swim lessons for all skill levels -- ages 6 months to 100 years -- are available here. Evening programs like Fitness Hour and Aqua Zumba are being offered too."
Following the grand opening, the park opened up for free for the day with the Splish Splash Beach Bash party featuring music, food and more as DFMWR and USO Fort Riley partnered to make it possible.
"I've been here for 18 years," said Hedy Noveroske, Aquatic Program manager. "I've been a lifeguard since I was 15 at this pool and to see it renovated and to see finally we've got an aquatic facility that the Fort Riley community deserves and needs is just a blessing. It's the highlight of everything."