Gibsonton rec center opens for business

Two years after groundbreaking, the facility opens with a weight room, a computer room and more.

Published November 4, 2005

GIBSONTON - Residents have been waiting two years for the opening of the new Gardenville Recreation Center.

So they didn't mind much when Hurricane Wilma delayed the center's opening for one day last week.

"The kids came in like it was a big festival," said recreational specialist Calvin Gainey-Hicks.

Adam Weaver, an 11-year-old in an afterschool program, was one of the first to use the new $1.6-million facility.

"This building doesn't smell bad like the old one," he said.

He also noticed that the building's air conditioning worked. It didn't in the old one, he said.

Groundbreaking on the 11,000-square-foot facility took place in October 2003. Construction began two months later.

Initially, officials expected the facility would open in December 2004, said John Brill, spokesman for the county's parks, recreation and conservation department.

But construction of new subdivisions east of Gardenville on Symmes Road added county sewer lines in the area, and Gardenville officials decided not to build a septic tank system for the facility as originally planned.

"We determined it would be good to get on the sewer line," Brill said. "It did add a few months on our plan to get in there, but the wait was worth it."

The new facility will allow for a larger variety of activities to attract residents of all ages.

"We'll have more programs for special interests," said Dave Ramirez, Gardenville's senior recreation specialist. "One of my goals is to build a senior program for the mornings."

Ramirez added that he is looking into starting an adult kickball league, a dodgeball league, a video game club and a gardening program. He has other ideas, too.

"We hope to send out a survey in the future to find out what the community wants," Ramirez said.

The main hall of the new recreation center is three to four times larger than the old hall, Ramirez said. It is soundproof and can be rented, along with the kitchen, on the weekends.

The new facility also includes a weight room, a computer room and a video game room that will be wired so gamers can compete with other gamers over a network.

"This (building) will be the hub of the community and something everybody in the community can be proud of," Ramirez said.

Expansion plans for Gardenville include adding a gymnasium, he said.

The old Gardenville Recreation Center, portions of which date to 1923, will eventually be renovated, Brill said.

"There is money to do that, and it will be done in the future," he said.