A portion of the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven reopened Monday after a fire devastated the building on Dec. 5, 2016.
The pool, racquetball courts and playscape all reopened, as well as a temporary rinsing shower and three private co-ed changing rooms. They also built a wheelchair-accessible ramp from the parking lot to the temporary front entrance of the pool.
The spas, locker rooms, gym and weight lifting area all remain closed as they were destroyed in the fire.
The fire, ruled accidental by investigators, started in the men’s sauna on the lower level.
“It’s been terrible,” said Myron Geller, of Milford, who returned to the newly opened facility to play racquetball with a group of men. “We’ve been playing somewhere else, but this is better. We’re all looking forward to coming back.”
Center leaders put a sign out front that read “Welcome Home” and they welcomed people back inside.
“People missed their home, their center, the place where they saw one another,” said Judy Alperin, the CEO for the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven.
“This is the best, the best friends, family, there’s always a lot going on. So we’re very happy,” said Brenda Coleman, a member from Derby.
As for the rest of the building, Alperin said they hired an architect to design and modernize the facility and will interview several construction management firms this week.
She is hoping the entire building will reopen in early December.
“We’re so happy to be having this moment today. We know it’s a giant leap forward on our way back and we want to thank the community,” said Alperin.