After delay, Ledyard swimming and tennis club plans fall/winter opening

Ledyard — It's been 14 months since the Thames Aquatic Club had its special permit approved to construct a facility and 16 months since co-owner John Vitale expressed his hope the business would be up and running by the mid-summer of 2017.

Since then, the tennis and swimming club has had to revise its timeline.

"With any project of this size, there will be delays," co-owner Anne Vitale said. "We're on schedule for opening in the fall."

Thus far, four acres of land at 14 Iron St. have been cleared for the club. Thames Aquatic anticipates the beginning of full construction within the next couple of weeks, as the Connecticut Department of Health reviews plans for its six-lane indoor/outdoor pool, Anne Vitale said.

Ledyard Mayor Fred Allyn III recently spoke with Anne Vitale about progress on their new center.

"As for the process being stalled, Anne tells me they expect to commence full-blown construction in the near future, with a projected opening in late fall/early winter," Allyn wrote in an email.

Getting the Planning and Zoning Commission to approve the project was a long process for the Vitales. Two public water companies are service providers in the area — Ledyard's Water Pollution Control Authority and the Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority — and neither could agree on a plan to supply water for the club.

Allyn touched on the "protracted battle" between SCWA and the Ledyard WPCA.

"This duel went on for many months. ... SCWA was authorized to provide the water service but the cost to connect was tens of thousands of dollars, which Thames Aquatic wasn't prepared to spend," Allyn wrote in an email. "The well was a solution that cost them a small fraction of what SCWA was going to charge them to connect."

Using a well for new construction is uncommon when public water is available, Allyn added.

After former Mayor Michael Finkelstein organized meetings with the water authorities, the Thames Aquatic developer and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, DEEP ultimately let Thames drill its own well.

As for Thames Aquatic's future water supply, "the well will suffice for now," according to Allyn.

"Thames Aquatic will only need to connect to public water if they have a future well issue, a water quality issue they can't resolve, or they expand operations and need greater capacity," Allyn wrote in an email.

Prospective members of Thames Aquatic can either have access solely to the pool, solely to the tennis courts, or to both, depending on their membership tier. There will be both family memberships and individual memberships. People can also join specific programs without a membership. The swimming and tennis club includes two clay tennis courts.

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