New plan for joint recreation center deserves enthusiastic support | NevadaAppeal.com

New plan for joint recreation center deserves enthusiastic support

John DiMambro
Appeal Publisher

The Parks and Recreation department has earned ear-pounding applause for this week’s attempted rescue of the Boys & Girls Club’s new facility, which came as a lifeboat in the form of a possible land purchase after all other land sale attempts had been lost at sea for a few years.

The flare gun was actually fired off about two years ago, followed by flare after flare.

Nothing wrong with the land, of course. Nothing at all. In fact, the land – which is located at the southeast corner of the 17 acres intended for the club’s new facility and campus – is beautiful prime property and conveniently located on Russell Way. But given the air-pocket drop of real estate values, the sale of the land became as assured as selling quicksand acreage to highway bridge developers.

And then, seemingly out of nowhere, came the Parks and Recreation department. God bless ’em. As a board member of the Boys & Girls Club, even I had given up hope of the sale of the land, at least until the deflated real estate balloon filled and uplifted again. Even though nothing is cemented in place yet, one fact remained as solid as a cornerstone: This is the best news I have heard regarding the Boys & Girls Club’s new facility since the announcement of its construction two years ago.

So, the way I understand it is that the Boys & Girls Club and the Parks and Recreation department will negotiate the cost and use of the land parcel by year’s end. Once agreed-upon, early bid solicitation for construction will be issued by spring 2008. If all goes according to plan, the four-acre land purchase will essentially pay for the completion of the Boys & Girls Club’s new clubhouse facility; then the city will commence construction of the recreation center and gym by mid-year 2008. Preliminary plans assume that only the gym of the recreation center will be shared by the Boys & Girls Club. The center itself will include a volleyball/basketball court, leisure swimming pool, climbing wall, and lobby.

The Parks and Recreation department presently has $6 million to invest, as well as a $3.5 million bond it could sell toward the building of the recreation center. Those funds, I am told, should be sufficient enough to build at least a 20,000 square-foot recreation center, which is considerably larger than the original 12,000 square-foot gym planned by the Boys & Girls Club. And the new larger project will be free-standing, whereas the original structure was to be connected to the clubhouse. Believe me, I hope all that is planned goes as planned.

Although I am not quite ready to run out to the curb and shout just yet, my applause for the Parks and Recreation department is for them at least coming forward with a possible solution. It is also the closest the Boys & Girls Club has come to some type of closure for the new campus. It is also the best of all scenarios presented so far.

If accomplished, I see this project as a smaller-scale consolation version of the magnificent 60,000 square-foot recreation center proposed by Western Nevada College, only to have the exceptionally well thought-out plan dissipated into an air of indifference during a rather insipid 2007 Legislative session. What the Parks and Recreation plan lacks in size contrast, it makes up for in a more centralized location and in its gym-sharing intentions with the kids of the Boys & Girls Club – ones who can really find gratitude in having what they have not.

As my applause for the Parks and Recreation department continues, I hope they stay true to the promise of their intentions. The kids of the Boys & Girls Club have been in need of a new facility for years. They need it. They deserve it. Having a gym will only add to their joy.

It will all be good for Carson City too. It will prove once again that no market conditions can stand in the way of a community that is willing to come to the aid of one of its own.

The city can use that badge of honor right now. About as much as the needful kids of the Boys & Girls Club need a new place they can call their own.

• John DiMambro is publisher of the Nevada Appeal. Write to him at jdimambro@nevadaappeal.com.