Leader Blues

Sunday, December 17, 2006

TOP STORY >>Community center now open to public

IN SHORT: Ribbon cutting in Cabot will usher in a healthy New Year for local residents.

By SARA GREENE
Leader deputy managing editor

The $4.1 million Veterans Park Community Center, 508 N. Lincoln St. in Cabot has more than 300 memberships and more are expected after yesterday’s ribbon cutting to officially open the facility, which includes a 25-meter pool, a therapy pool, a walking track, meeting rooms and two basketball courts.

“We hope to sell 600 memberships and we could top out at 1,100,” said Carroll Astin, director of Cabot Parks and Recreation.
During the ribbon cutting, Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh said preliminary special-census numbers show more than 22,000 residents in Cabot, the Veterans Park Community Center will help the community continue growing.

“It’s a blessing for our seniors and for children enrolled in Camp Cabot who will no longer have to spend the hot summers in an un-airconditioned facility,” Stumbaugh said.

Camp Cabot, a recreation program for school-aged children, is typically held in the summer at the former Cabot Parks and Recreation facilities on Richie Road.

A winter version of Camp Cabot will be held from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 21, Friday, Dec. 22 and Tuesday, Dec. 26 through Friday, Dec. 29 and Tuesday, Jan. 2.

The facility is enormously popular with older children from Cabot High School and Cabot Junior High North. After school Tuesday afternoon, more than 60 students swarmed the facility to play basketball.

Mayor-elect Eddie Joe Williams said he plans to launch a community-wide fitness program in January. Citizens will be awarded points for hours spent exercising.

Each month there will be a meeting at Veterans Park Community Center with guest speakers covering a variety of health-related topics. Participants with the most points will be entered into a monthly drawing for a free membership to Veterans Park Community Center.

The 34,388-square-foot facility has a full-sized basketball court, a concession stand, a 25-meter pool and a 320-square-foot, heated therapy pool with dressing rooms and showers on the first floor.

On the second floor is the walking track balcony overlooking the basketball court, an observation area for the pool and a carpeted 1,750-square-foot meeting room.

Members of American Legion Post 71 said they’re excited about having a nice place to meet each month.

“Cabot has a shortage of meeting rooms so as a group, we’ll get a lot of use out of it. Personally, I’ll probably use the walking track and maybe try the pool,” said Jim Mathis, commander of American Legion Post 71. Billyee Everett, director of the Cabot Chamber of Commerce, says in addition to the positive comments she’s heard from individuals, many other groups have expressed interest in meeting at the center.

“I think it is an awesome structure for our community and it’s a wonderful place to have a meeting,” Everett said.
Across from the meeting room is an exercise room equipped with two treadmills, two cross-training machines, a stair-climbing machine and a recumbent bike. Earlier this week Cabot Parks and Recreation Commission approved $9,000 for a four-station weight machine to be installed in the room.

“I don’t think this will put us in competition with the for-profit facilities in town, but we’ve had a lot of seniors request it to improve their flexibility,” said Mark Stocks, chairman of the commission.

Located on Hwy. 38 across from Cabot High School on eight acres that used to be the American Legion ball field, the community center has been a long time in coming.

Former Mayor Joe Allman was in his second term in office when Astin first presented to the city council pencil drawings of the building he wanted the city to build. Talk about the need for a facility with a heated swimming pool started almost a decade ago with the first parks commission.

The city purchased land for the center six years ago when American Legion Post 71 offered to sell the property to the city for $50,000.

With council approval, Allman bought the property, but it wasn’t until Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh took office that city voters were asked to reroute existing city revenue (a portion of the city’s 1.5 percent hamburger tax and a portion of the city millage) to pay for the facility.

When late in 2004, the construction bids came in at almost $1 million more than the 20-year bonds for $3 million the city had sold to local banks to pay for the center, the project stalled for several months while city leaders worked with architects to get the price down.

Eventually the extra money for building was included in a second bond issue funded in 2005 by extending an existing one-cent sales tax.

The center will be open seven days a week. From Monday through Thursday it will be open from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. On Friday, the hours are 5 a.m. until 10 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday, the hours are 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
At www.cabotparks.net community members can register and pay for programs such as basketball, aerobics, fitness and swimming.
After registering and paying, users will receive an e-mail immediately to confirm their enrollment.
Daily use passes are $3. A 20-day, punch-card pass is $50 for adults and $35 people 18 and under.

Monthly passes are available for $45 per month for a family, $35 per month for couples, $30 per month for adults and $25 per month for children.

Annual passes are $360 for a family, $270 for married adults, $240 for senior couples and single adults and $200 for children.

A 10 percent corporate discount for businesses with five or more employees is available. Walking passes are available for $10 per month.

For more information, call 605-1506.