Quartet of classes held in newly renovated facility on Saturday; CPRD waiting for more equipment to be delivered

GARY ALLEN - Khara Puncochar leads a barre fusion class on Saturday at the newly-renovated Chehalem Fitness Center on Haworth Avenue.

After months of anticipation, the renovated fitness center on Haworth Avenue in Newberg is finally complete. The Chehalem Park & Recreation District's crown jewel was officially opened to the public on Monday, although it was the site of a quartet of classes on Saturday.

Several delays slowed the process, but the patience exhibited by the public was extraordinary, CPRD Public Information Director Kat Ricker said.

"Everybody is feeling really good about it," she added. "We've had so much anticipation from the public – and they've stuck with us through all the delays. Once everyone gets in here and uses it, they will be pleased."

Jim McMaster was the project manager for the facility and expressed similar sentiments as Ricker. Equipment delays were the primary reason for the facility's opening being pushed back and its unveiling is considered a "soft opening" by CPRD because roughly 40 percent of the equipment has yet to arrive.

Still, there is a wide selection of fitness equipment available in the facility to go along with its other amenities.

"The weight area does feel fairly full," Ricker said. "We've probably got 60 to 65 percent of the space full of equipment as it is. There's plenty in there to do and no shortage of exercises to do before it all arrives."

An elevated walking track encircles the multi-use sport court in the center of the facility, and surrounding the track is a mural painted by Portland artist Dan Cohen depicting a variation of the "hero's journey." Down a hallway on the ground level is a room with the fitness equipment next to a studio for classes.

The mural is of particular importance to CPRD and is a major component of the renovations. A plaque at the top of the stairs explains the story behind Cohen's work and connects the art with the Newberg community.

"Dan Cohen is really a master of his craft," Ricker said. "There's a reason he is so in demand all over the country. We were really lucky to have him."

The project, in total, was budgeted at $5.74 million in October 2017; $2.5 million of the budget went to seismic upgrades and the elevated track – a point of contention among CPRD board members at the time that was ultimately deemed a necessity.

A $5.9 million loan was taken out and approved 3-2 by the board to cover the estimated cost along with an unrelated, earmarked purchase of a property in Dundee. Newberg residents can either purchase a membership through CPRD or pay a drop-in fee to use the facility.

Its hours run from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Fridays, 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sundays. Information on prices can be found by calling the CPRD registration desk at 503-537-2909.

While the facility is open for full use, its official grand opening will not be until 3 p.m. March 21, when CPRD plans to host a 45-minute event that includes speeches from Cohen, County Commissioner Casey Kulla and Newberg Mayor Rick Rogers, among others.

The goal of a soft opening, Ricker said, is to break in the facility and smooth out any "unforeseen rough spots."

The facility is impressive for a city of Newberg's size, however, and was eagerly anticipated by residents.

"It really is awe-inspiring," she said. "This is really Newberg taking a step up."

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