The new indoor recreation center, expected to be the catalyst for downtown development, is expected to be running and open in January 2017.
During a public information session last week, about 25 people came to listen to the town’s indoor recreation plans.
Construction is expected to start January 2016, said Sonya Shaw, parks recreations and cultural resources director
The proposed 45,000 square-foot, two-level recreation center will have three multipurpose rooms and three high school sized basketball courts. It will also have showers, a kitchen and a walking track on the second level.
“Depending on what the final layout is, we want to make sure that we try to make this track as long as possible,” Shaw said. "I think one of the complaints you’ll hear in smaller facilities is that you have to go around the track 20 times before you get a mile in. So we’re going to try to maximize this spaces as much as we can.”
There will be 180 parking spaces available for those using the gym. Shaw said she could foresee AAU tournaments being played at the new indoor recreation center.
In March 2013, the town approved a $35.7 million bond referendum to revitalize the city, build recreation facilities, improve sidewalks and construct new town facilities. Included in that referendum was $7.15 million for Parks and Recreation.
She said the town is reapplying for the parks and recreations trust fund grant. The request of $250,000 will be used toward different elements of the project, Shaw said.
One resident asked was it possible to get funding for an aquatic center at the recreation center.
“One thing we’ve considered while planning this is to make sure we’re not competing too heavily with the private sector,” said Assistant Town Manager Rodney Dickerson. “Also you’ll notice that this center is not heavily focused on fitness as far as weightlifting goes, because we know in the community we have several private facilities that have gyms. So we try to concentrate on some of the things the greater community is not providing.”
The town currently has one recreation center, which is small relative to the size of the town. The new center will be in the heart of downtown on Main Street. The town has already bought about 20 parcels of land in the surrounding area to prepare for further construction.
A parcel of land adjacent to the center will be left for future development. The recreation center’s dimensions will border U.S. Highway 70, Main Street, Montague and Purvis Streets.
Avery Street recreation center and the senior center will continue to exist.