When a Greenwood father last went to the Greenwood Community Center before its recent $2.3 million renovation, he didn’t see how a membership would benefit his family.
That was before the project that added a play area complete with a climbing structure and a variety of other play areas specifically geared at families with younger children. When Brian Reinhard decided to give the community center another chance this week on he and his 6-year-old daughter’s shared day off, they found plenty to do together, including building a structure out of Lego bricks.
“I’m very impressed,” Reinhard said. “There’s lots of things to do and explore.”
He’s not sure yet if he’ll become a member, but said he’s willing to consider it after his experience on Wednesday.
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One year after the Greenwood Community Center re-opened after being closed for nine months for renovations, membership, traffic and revenue figures are at all-time highs. The $2.3 million renovation to the community center, at 100 Surina Way, included adding an indoor kids play area, upgrading the exercise area and equipment, new carpet and furnishings, and re-arranged, flexible classroom spaces.
“This is what the community deserves — a top shelf fitness center,” Greenwood Parks and Recreation Director Rob Taggart said.
The higher profile of the community center has a benefit to the city’s entire parks and recreation system. When people are at the community center, they are exposed to more city-run recreation programs across Greenwood, he said.
At the end of 2015, the last full year of being open, the community center had about 623 gym members, a number that jumped to more than 2,000 at the close of 2017, Taggart said. In the year since the community center re-opened, they have added an average of 100 new memberships every month, he said.
“Being able to shut the facility down for nine and a half month is not an easy thing to do,” Taggart said. “When you are shutting down the community center, to open the doors back up and have the community come back to you and use the facility is great.”
Revenue at the community center has more than doubled from 2015, going from $250,000 to $532,000. Taggart said he expects the money the community center brought in from memberships and other fees to cover the operational costs, including adding more employees. The project to renovate the community center was funded by refinancing a loan the city used to pay for the construction of the Freedom Springs Aquatic Center and $500,000 in park impact fees, which are paid by home developers to fund city parks projects.
The amount of visits to the community center also rose, going from 74,000 to 100,000 in that same time span. The community center hours expanded immediately after the renovations, but Sunday hours were later expanded again in 2017 to meet demand, along with adding another four part-time employees, Taggart said.
“We have the amenities that attract the patrons, and we were able to extend hours,” he said.
The addition of Kid City has played a large role in increased usage of the community center, along with new activities, such as pickleball, he said.
Pickleball attracts a large gathering of adults, who were out on the basketball courts playing the tennis-like game Wednesday morning.
Southport resident Gene Dean said he comes to the community center three times a week to play pickleball, and is glad that to have another location in the area where he can play during winter months and in bad weather. He was introduced to the game by a friend about four years ago and said he kept playing because it has helped him lose weight.
Dean said he’s found pickleball to be a much more enjoyable form of exercise than walking a treadmill or lifting weights, and it has helped him lose 50 pounds.
“I play so I can keep the fat off me,” Dean said.
Prior to pickleball being added, Dean said he wouldn’t have had any reason to come to the community center.
In addition to the gym memberships, the community center also offers memberships for its new Kid City play area, where parents can drop off their children while they work out. By the end of 2017, the community center has reached more than 600 members for the play area, with parents sometimes coming just for their kids to play, Taggart said.
“It has been fun to watch patrons use the space,” he said. “In some ways, they use it exactly like it was designed and it has been interesting to see them utilize the space in ways we didn’t think it could be utilized.”
Jason Hauger, who lives on the northwest side of Indianapolis, has brought his 3-year-old son, Westley to Kid City nearly a dozen times.
Finding good indoor play areas can be a challenge, Hauger said. He’s traveled to places in Brownsburg and Whitestown on days where he takes his son out to play, which provides a break for his wife. Some of his son’s favorite activities at Kid Center include playing in the pretend grocery center and with Lego bricks, Hauger said.
A group of stay-at-home mothers from the Columbus chapter of Moms Club were on their first visit to the community center. Columbus resident Kayla O’Neill brought her 2-year-old son, Kian, out to play.
“He’s been having a lot of fun,” O’Neill said. “It’s a morning full of stuff to do.”
Since it re-opened last January, The Greenwood Community Center has rapidly added members, increased attendance and earned additional revenue. Here’s a look at those numbers from before and after it closed for renovations in 2016: