PINE BLUFF, Ark. — After years of anticipation, the City of Pine Bluff’s state-of-the-art aquatic center opened for business on Saturday, June 29.

Hundreds gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony, tours and an afternoon of free swimming.

Planning for the aquatic center began in 2011, and its opening marks the beginning of a new era in Pine Bluff.

“We came together in unity across three mayors and five city council terms; we came together with hope in our hearts that change was possible,” Mayor Shirley Washington told the crowd.

The $12 million indoor facility – with a competition pool, water playground, slide and jacuzzi – is the city’s first public pool in more than 40 years.

“This facility is much more than a pool,” Washington said. “It will be a jewel that serves all of southeast Arkansas.”

Washington says it will serve beginner and elite swimmers alike. The Pine Bluff Sharks youth swim team will call the aquatic center home for practice and swim meets.

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“To see this gives these kids hope -- hope that their community is coming back, that their community loves them, that their community embraces them with wonderful opportunities," Washington said.

The Pine Bluff Aquatic Center will offer daily rates and memberships. Click here for more information.