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Smith proposes new recreation center

News Editor

"I have a dream." No, those aren’t just the words of the late Martin Luther King Jr., but also the words spoken recently by Troy City Recreation Director, Dan Smith.

Smith said it has been his dream for some time now to build a recreation center in Troy that can be used by everyone in the city, no matter how old they are or what their physical limitations are. "I envision a facility that serves everybody’s needs from infant swimming to senior therapeutics, as well as exercise and recreation needs of the mentally and physically challenged to the recreation needs of all others in the community," he said.

Smith said the city already has excellent baseball and softball facilities at the sportsplex, but needs to address the other recreation needs of the community. "I love baseball and softball," he said. "But let’s face it, everybody doesn’t play baseball and softball."

The facility Smith sees as a possible future recreation center for the community is similar to a newer YMCA. But, he wants as much input from the public as possible.

During the work session preceding Tuesday’s meeting of the Troy City Council, Smith gave a power point presentation to the mayor and council members outlining his vision. The facility would be at least two stories in height, and include an upper level walking track, basketball courts, racquetball courts, an indoor swimming

pool, men’s and women’s locker rooms with showers, game rooms, a kitchen, a playground, wading pool, a gymnastics room, storage areas, conference rooms and other places to hold meetings. He said the central offices of the recreation department would also be housed at the facility.

"This is what I have put together after talking to many people in the community about what they would like to see in a recreation center," said Smith. "But, I am willing to hear any other suggestions that anyone may have."

Mayor Jimmy Lunsford pointed out that the biggest question facing the city would be the funding of such a project should the city undertake it. Smith said a number of ways of raising money could possibly be utilized from corporate sponsors to private donations and fundraising events by the community.

Smith said he has been in communication with several other cities close to the size of Troy who have such facilities and is currently researching means of funding. He said what he has heard from the cities of Eufaula, Jacksonville, Fort Payne and Gulf Shores is that the facilities they have, which are similar to what he envisions for Troy, have had a dramatic impact on their communities in the area of leisure services.

During the meeting with the city’s leaders Smith asked them to imagine what impact such a facility would have on the city. He pointed out that the center would be a great selling point when showing company representatives looking for a place to locate their industry around the town.

Thursday, Smith said there is no guarantee that the city will build such a facility at this point, that he and the city leaders are just throwing out ideas. "The main thing is to find out what the people in the community want and how it can be paid for," he said. "There is no question about what it can do for this community."

Smith said the need for more meeting places is certainly there, because he has had to turn people away simply because the city doesn’t have the room. "I told a boy scout leader this afternoon that I didn’t have a place for his troop to meet this evening because all our room is being used," he said.

Smith said he welcomes comments and ideas from the public. He can be emailed at www.troycable.net or can be reached by phone at 566-4031.

To learn more about what Smith has in mind for a community recreation facility visit www.troyrecreation.org.