Other cities enjoying new community recreation centers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 7, 2002

News Editor

Troy City Parks and Recreation director Dan Smith has toured several new or nearly new recreation centers in the state, getting ideas for what he envisions for the people of Troy.

Smith said he has visited cities near the same size as Troy to get a feel for what communities with similar demographics offer the citizens in their areas.

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One such facility is in Jacksonville, where the new recreational center has been open only four weeks. "We haven’t even had our grand opening yet," said Jacksonville Parks and Recreation director Bo Batey.

Batey said the 40,000 square feet facility has been received well by the people of Jacksonville.

He said quite a few people are already taking advantage of the membership package being offered by his department.

The new facility offers a 13,000 square feet gymnasium with a suspended walking track, and divider curtain so more than one game can take place at a time.

"We (the city parks and recreation department) had no gym of our own," said Batey. "We had to use the gym at the school or the college for games we sponsored."

Batey said the city was also in need of rental space for meeting and receptions. He said the new recreation center has a 4,000 square feet rental space which can be divided into four rooms if needed. He added that the rooms also have cable television and Internet access.

Batey said the new facility also has a fitness gym with 21 pieces of fitness equipment. "We wanted something that would promote community fitness," he said.

There’s also an aerobics room where dance, karate and other martial arts are taught, according to Batey. He said there are also locker rooms and showers to be used by those utilizing the facility.

Instead of an indoor pool, Batey said the city opted to go with an L-shaped outdoor pool.

The pool has eight lanes on one side for swimming laps or to be used in swim meets. He said the other side has a very shallow area for just wading or for small children to play in.

Batey said the city paid for the project through a $4 million bond issue. He added that community input about what was wanted by the residents in a recreation center was a key element in deciding what the facility would have.

"I have been here for 24 years and there is nothing else here that compares to this facility," said Batey.

Eufaula’s recreation center opened in June of 1998. Eufaula director of parks and recreation Sandy Jones said the facility is one of the best things that could have ever happened to the city.

The 42,000 square feet center features everything from and indoor swimming and wading pool, to a basketball court that can be converted into a large meeting hall, racquetball courts, an upper padded walking track and a lower level walking track as well. Jones said the facility also houses the administrative offices for the department and three meeting rooms, plus an aerobics studio, an area for gymnastics and a small fitness facility.

"There’s also a children’s play room, where we hold a summer day-camp program," he said.

Jones said the indoor L-shaped pool has an eight-lane regulation pool on one side for holding swim meets. In fact, he said the facility will play host to the state swim meet, when 1,400 swimmers will converge on Eufaula for the event. He mentioned that a team from Troy will compete at that particular swim meet.

Jones said funding for the facility was done through a $3 million bond issue and $1.2

million dollars raised by a foundation that was created specifically for that purpose. He added that the facility is great for recruiting new industry to the area, especially when corporate leaders asked about recreation opportunities for their employees.

Jones said the recreation department offers a membership fee-based program for those who want to participate, while those who don’t are allowed to pay for what they use on a daily basis. "We make about enough to pay half of our expenses," said Jones. "Which we feel like that is pretty good."