The Suffolk County Community College Eastern Campus Health and Wellness Center. Photo: Denise Civiletti

The much-anticipated grand opening of the Suffolk County Community College Eastern Campus Health and Wellness center —  including the first public pool available to East End residents — will take place on Friday, the college has announced.

The college is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new facility Friday morning.

The $21 million, 40,000-square-foot building features an eight-lane, 25-yard indoor pool built for sanctioned competitive swimming and diving. It is ADA-accessible.

The facility also features: an 11,500-square-foot gymnasium, with an indoor track, six backboards and striping for basketball, volleyball and badminton; a 2,200-square-foot weight room with treadmills, stationary bikes, ellipticals, nautilus equipment and free weights; a climbing wall with eight stations, each equipped with a belay bar; and two classrooms separated by a folding partition.

Access to the facility will be available to county residents for a minimal, as yet unannounced, fee.

View of the indoor pool at the health and wellness center, as seen through a glass exit door this morning. Photo: Denise Civiletti

The eastern campus has never had any indoor facilities for physical education, making it difficult for students to meet physical education requirements, according to college officials.

A fitness center was part of the college’s original concept for its eastern campus, which was developed in the late 1970s. By the time the college proceeded with plans for the health and wellness facility more than 20 years later, the 1993 Pine Barrens Protection Act had been adopted. The eastern campus’ location in the core Central Pine Barrens Protection Area required the college to gain approval from the State Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission. The commission approved the plans in 2010 and the college moved forward with obtaining the additional required approvals to construct the facility, which took another five years.

Once the approval process was completed, a $4 million increase in projected construction costs — originally estimated at $17.75 million — further delayed the start of construction. The project, funded equally by the state and county, finally got underway after both the state and county governments each agreed to provide an additional $2 million. Construction got underway in June 2017.

The new complex will complete the 192-acre eastern campus near downtown Riverhead, the college said in a press release on Friday.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.