Worn carpet, ceiling tiles and furniture are just part of what will soon be replaced and revamped at the Greenwood Community Center.
The center, which houses the parks and recreation department offices, community meeting rooms and an affordable workout gym, is getting an overhaul. Designs for what will be done are being drawn up.
The Greenwood Parks Department has a $1 million budget that will fund the project to make the 23-year-old facility more modern, but they could ask for more, Director of Parks and Recreation Rob Taggart said.
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The money for the work came from refinancing the bond originally used to buy the property for Freedom Park, allowing the parks department to borrow more money over a longer period of time without increasing the tax rate, city controller Adam Stone said.
The purpose of the project is to make the community center relevant again, drawing residents in with a more modern look and offering better, newer amenities, Taggart said.
“We’re really outdated. That’s not good,” he said. “With any good product, you need to keep it updated or add something every five to six years, and we haven’t done that for 23 years.”
Renovation of underutilized rooms is just one of many changes the facility will undergo.
Currently, the fitness and weightlifting equipment sits on the second floor, but there has been discussion about moving that to the first floor, Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said.
“Bringing workout equipment downstairs is a very wise idea,” Myers said. “Workout and aerobic rooms should be downstairs where people can see. People don’t realize what all is in there. They’ll realize if it’s easier to see.”
The community center has lost members in recent years to nationally franchised gyms, such as L.A. Fitness and Planet Fitness. At its peak in 2006, Greenwood Community Center had about 1,600 members; now it has closer to 1,400.
But trying to compete with those gyms isn’t the reason for the changes. While attracting and retaining members is now a bigger challenge, the parks department isn’t trying to offer an alternative to or compete with gyms and fitness centers, Taggart said.
The city has hired Indianapolis architectural firm Arc Design to collect input from members, explore designs and devise a master plan for progressive updates. The project could start as soon as this year, Myers said.
The plans, which are in the beginning stages, do not include expanding the building, Taggart said.
“We are really focused on getting the biggest bang for our buck,” Taggart said. “The entire purpose of these renovations is to make the place modern, with modern features, and become relevant again.”
A main focus of the project is upgrading the building and its mechanical operations. The facility’s air handlers, which are devices used to assist heating, ventilation and air conditioning by circulating air through the facility, are almost at the end of their lifespan and need to be replaced, officials said.
The city has been making annual payments to pay off $1.9 million borrowed in 2005 to purchase the land for Freedom Park. The city has 10 years left to pay on the 20-year loan and decided to refinance the debt. The city was able to borrow another $1 million and get a lower interest rate on the debt. That gave the parks department $1 million this year, which is being used for the community center work, Stone said.
If designs for possible projects showed something else the city might want to do, officials could look for added money from the parks department budget, Taggart said.