Caledonia — The district reached out to the community in the fall for suggestions on what to name the planned community center.
After more than 180 submissions were narrowed to five on which the community voted, Caledonia Community Schools broke ground Oct. 27 with the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids on the new Cal Community Center.
The center is funded by the May 2020 passage of the district’s $88.09 million bond proposal for the construction of a new elementary school and athletic complex, along with safety and security updates, and facility repairs and upgrades.
Expected to be completed in spring 2024, the 47,000-square-foot community center will be open to the public and feature a swimming pool and multi-use gymnasium, much to the joy of Caledonia swim team members, junior Connor Cammet and senior Carson Herzog.
“Our swim team has been going from pool to pool and now with our own home pool, it opens a lot more opportunities for students to enjoy themselves and bring in other water sports like water polo or synchronized swimming,” Connor said.
He and his teammates are part of a swimming and diving co-op with Grand Rapids South Christian and Lowell high schools.
“With us traveling around the county, I feel like we don’t get as much support in the stands as we could,” Carson said. “By building this community pool, we have one place for people to come and more people would know about our swim team.”
At the ground-breaking, Superintendent Dedrick Martin said “hearing the students dedication to their sport and their hunger” for a space to call their own in their community sparked the idea to figure out a solution.
“Because of all of you, we will be able to build on the excellence of our community,” Martin told those who gathered on Oct. 27. “This new community space will help bring our schools and residents together to improve overall health and well being.”
He also thanked project partners and the community for investing in Caledonia.
“This project will truly be an asset to our community, our students and the start of a great partnership with the YMCA. We are looking forward to building a stronger, healthier community together.”
The YMCA plans to provide employees who will work alongside the swim program’s coach, and provide pool maintenance. The Caledonia Resource Center, currently operating out of Duncan Lake Middle School, will also find a new home in the Cal Community Center.
Following the name reveal, Martin and various members of the Board of Education and the YMCA put on hard hats, picked up shovels and dug into a pile of fresh dirt at the site of the future center.
“Our goal is to strengthen communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility,” said Scott Lewis, president and CEO of YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids. “This partnership allows us to advance the work of our mission, expand our impact in the region and offer residents accessible and fun ways to get active.”