An investment of $1.1-million will bring something new to the Woodward Park Community Center: air-conditioning.

An investment of $1.1-million will bring something new to the Woodward Park Community Center: air-conditioning.

Columbus City Council member Zachary M. Klein, who was appointed to office on Jan. 10, toured the 15,000-square-foot facility at 5147 Karl Road last week with Recreation and Parks director Alan McKnight.

"That was my first visit," Klein said. "I was thoroughly impressed by the operation there."

In addition to the money for the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning at the Woodward Park Community Center, Klein said that $1.2-million is being set aside in the capital budget for a similar upgrade to the Far East Community Center, 1826 Lattimer Drive.

Klein, chairman of council's Recreation and Parks Committee, said that he hopes the addition of air-conditioning to the two facilities, and perhaps to others if the money can be found, would enable expansion of programs and make the centers more available to senior citizens during the hot summer months.

"The improvements we are making at Woodward Park and the Far East Recreation Centers will allow Columbus residents to enjoy their facilities year-round," Klein said in a statement. "Our investment in air-conditioning will allow Columbus residents to take advantage of expanded programming, improve their overall health and provide a great place for young people and seniors to beat the summer heat."

"Council member Klein is exploring funding options that will allow the Recreation and Parks Department to install HVAC systems in other recreation centers around the city," according to the announcement of the funding for the Woodward Park and Far East facilities. "It is one of his top capital budget priorities he is asking his colleagues to support . In addition to improving area recreation centers, he is also including dollars for swimming pool upgrades and new playground accessories that will allow children of all abilities to enjoy outdoor play.

Council is expected to vote on a capital budget and capital improvements in mid-March.

"In an ideal world, sure we'd have these small community centers in neighborhoods," Klein said in an interview. "Unfortunately the economic realities prevent that from happening. What we can do is look at what we already have so that we can make them more comfortable year-round."

The recreation panel chairman said that he was guided by McKnight in selecting the community centers most in need of HVAC upgrades. Next in line, if funding becomes available, would be the Marion Franklin, Barnett and possibly Westgate community centers, according to Klein.

Bidding on the Woodward Park and Far East HVAC projects will take place within the next couple of weeks, Klein said. He added that he hopes the work can begin as soon as possible, but admitted it would be highly doubtful air-conditioning would be in place for this summer.

"Once we get them up and running, we'll have them for decades to come," Klein said