Westerville Community Center's senior wing, sports court next to open

MARLA K. KUHLMAN
mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com
Mike Phillips, recreation and operations superintendent for Westerville Parks and Recreation, stands in the renovated front-desk area located in the center of the Westerville Community Center.

Renovations are continuing at the Westerville Community Center, 350 N. Cleveland Ave., where part of the south-side wing is expected to open to senior citizens in late September or early October.

Mike Phillips, recreation and operations superintendent for Westerville Parks & Recreation, said the senior center, 310 W. Main St., is 9,835 square feet as opposed to the expanded Older Adult/Senior Wing of the Community Center at more than 12,000 square feet.

He said the square footage doesn't include other spaces within the Community Center that seniors can use, such as the Arts and Crafts Room and Aerobics Room.

Westerville Parks & Recreation director Randy Auler said the community-center project was a key component of the city's push to renew Westerville's Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces 0.25% city income tax, which was extended through 2040 by Westerville voters in November 2014.

Auler said the tax raises $5 million to $5.8 million annually that is used for park development projects and replacement of needed items.

The cost of the new construction on the center is about $20.5 million, taking the facility from 96,000 square feet to 145,000 square feet, he said.

Phillips said there will be two wings leading to the south side of the building, including the Arts and Crafts Room that accesses the senior wing.

"We're bringing over all our kilns, so we can offer all our ceramic classes here that we've never been able to do before," he said. "So (we'll have) ceramics, the pottery, clay classes here and in the adjoining Arts and Crafts Room will be painting and drawing classes and kids classes. We've really expanded the arts and crafts opportunities with that space."

The senior area also will feature a sitting room, complete with fireplace and television; a billiards room with three pool tables; and a Food Network-style demonstration kitchen that will be available to users of all ages.

A new warm-water therapy pool will be adjacent to the senior wing and existing pools.

Also planned on the south wing of the center is an e-Sports room dedicated to gamers.

"It's very popular," Phillips said. "We have a whole room dedicated to it. The market is teens to young adults. We hope to open it up to all ages."

An area called the "sprouts room," where parents can drop off their children for child care while they work out, also has doubled its space.

Opening by Oct. 1, Phillips said, is an all-sports court on the north end of the center.

"We'll be able to offer indoor sports in here we weren't able to offer before because of the floor itself," he said. "It's different than wood. We'll be able to do indoor soccer, indoor hockey, lacrosse, Rollerblading that we wouldn't be able to do on the normal, wooden gym floor. This space is really going to open up our horizons and expand our sports offerings and allow us to do a whole heck of a lot more."

As a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Phillips said, center visitors must call and request a time slot so the number of guests is controlled, and to allow the cleaning of equipment between use.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla

Lifeguard Lily Braaksma is on duty at the Westerville Community Center pool that reopened about a month ago, excluding the play structures.