MORGANTOWN — The Aquatic Center at Mylan Park has quickly established a name for itself in national swimming and diving circles.
It’s become a regular stop for USA Diving, which held national events in the venue in 2022, 2023 and intends to return in 2024. The Big 12 swimming and diving championships will also be back in Mylan Park next year.
But when it comes to community use, the facility has fallen off the pace.
Chalk some of that up to terrible timing.
The ribbon cutting ceremony for the $45 million, 90,000 square-foot facility took place in November 2019. Within months, it was completely off limits to the community due to COVID-19.
“It’s below what was anticipated, but it’s been increasing ever so slightly every month. It’s doing a lot better. You figure it was open a month or two months before the pandemic, then it had to shut down … That set us behind. So, it’s a challenge, but I think we’re getting there. We just need to have more community involvement in this facility,” Monongalia County Commissioner Sean Sikora said.
Enter the MyPARK Pass.
On Wednesday, Jennifer Lainhart came before the commission to announce the program, through which individuals and businesses can purchase discounted passes providing access to the community portions of the aquatic center as well as other Mylan Park amenities.
Lainhart is the director of the aquatic center as well as the neighboring track complex.
She explained an individual can purchase the pass for $25 monthly and receive three swim passes to the community pool. One trip to the pool for a non-member is normally $7.
The pass also includes free access and small equipment rentals at the recreation courts (basketball, pickleball etc.) at the Hazel & J.W. Ruby Community Center during public hours, and 20% discounts on: Reservation of courts or batting cages at the community center; reservation of the various athletic fields; and participation in programs at the aquatic center and community center.
The track complex is always open to the public outside of reserved times.
While the pass is available for individual purchase, the real hope is that it can become a perk offered by area employers.
The Monongalia County Commission was the first on board. Every county employee will receive a pass at a cost to the county of $9 per month, per employee.
Lainhart said businesses can reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-933-2783 to negotiate a rate.
She said the goal of the program is to simply get more people in the doors to see the facility and the wealth of programs and events on offer.
“We’ll work with companies of different sizes. We want to make sure people have access to it,” Lainhart said. “This is a perk they can share with their employees and say, ‘Hey, we’ve done this for you.’”
Commission President Tom Bloom said the aquatic center remains a hidden gem within the community more than three years after its opening.
“It still surprises me that people go out there and say, ‘Oh my God. I didn’t realize how nice.’ We need to bring individuals out to the facility. It’s there for them to use. I think there’s an idea that it’s like the old natatorium. That’s it’s only for WVU and they can’t use it. This is something different,” he said. “This is for the community too.”
Check out mylanpark.org/mypark-pass for more information.