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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Community center exhibits unique collaboration

Area residents will soon be working out in a brand new 79,000 square foot community center, care of a unique collaborative effort between the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, Ohio Army National Guard, and the Wood County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (Wood Lane).

The facility, which is located on the corner of Haskins and W. Newton roads, is having the finishing touches placed on it, and has been exhibited to various community members in a series of “soft openings” over the past month.

“The facility is going to offer the Bowling Green area some pretty fantastic opportunities, it will be a really great thing for the community,” said Michelle Grigore, director of the Parks and Recreation Department.

The $10 million facility houses a 4,300 square foot fitness area with treadmills, ellipticals, easy-to-use weight machines, and dumbbells, as well as two regulation-size hardwood courts with an adjoining kitchen that can serve up to 500 people.

On the second floor is a 1/8 mile track where runners can look down on the entire facility. A 1,500 square foot activity room for instructional dance and other fitness programs resides on the first floor, along with two community classrooms accommodating up to 100 people, a $2.50 an hour Kiwanis Kid’s Clubhouse for entertaining youngsters accompanying their parents, a lounge, spacious locker rooms, and family changing areas.

Aside from the community areas, there are separate wings for the Ohio Army National Guard and Wood Lane.

As visitors come to the facility they will notice a recruiting office near the entrance. Beyond the office is the Guard’s wing, a brand new facility with a host of options unavailable at the Guard’s old location on the corner of Wooster and Summit streets.

The wing contains another two gymnasiums that can also be reserved by the community, a work bay for the repair of vehicles, a distance learning classroom, several offices, storage facilities, a conference room, showers, and a locker room.

“I’m as happy as a clam,” Sgt. 1st Class Charlie Arnett, retention and recruiting non — commissioned officer, said of his new office.

Wood Lane Special Olympics participants are also smiling, due to the fact that they now have their own facilities to host games. The gym located in their current facilities is a fourth as small as the one located within their wing of the community center.

“This big gym is something we have been waiting for a long time,” Mary Sehmann, Wood County Special Olympics coordinator, said.

Previously Special Olympics events were held in area school gymnasiums that often times led to problems with reservations.

The Wood Lane gymnasium has ample seating, a wireless scoreboard, and a state of the art sound system.

With the three agencies coming together, the idea of a “community” center has come full circle.

“We are really excited about the collaboration. Anytime we can be out in the community is really a plus,” she said.

The main wing will also offer some high tech options. The fitness area has the Broadcast Vision System, which will allow fitness equipment users to tune their headphones in to a particular television station. It also has four Game Bikes, which will allow teenagers to race each other on a video screen while cycling away calories.

“We’re getting dance pads too,” Tim Stubbs, Parks and Recreation facilities coordinator, said, referring to video games in which users do aerobic dance moves.

The whole facility will have its grand opening on August 6 at 10 a.m. with three separate ribbon cutting ceremonies. Following the ceremonies and a set of tours, the facility will open for the first time.

Before the big opening, the Parks and Recreation Department has been opening the facility’s doors for various groups. Parks and recreation adult sports participants are checking it out until July 15 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Local businesses and service groups will be able to see the facility during the same times July 18-21. July 23 is family day from 9 a.m. to noon, when activities for all ages will be available at the facility and all attendees will receive a free pass to the City Park aquatic complex.

Beginning August 6, the facility will be open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays; and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

Annual memberships, 10-day passes, and one-day passes are available. Prices vary for Bowling Green residents, students up to grade 12, families, and those who wish to use the facility during off-peak hours.

An annual pass for Bowling Green residents is $150, for non-residents $300, and for students in grade 12 or lower is $100.

For more information on the soft openings or memberships or pass rates, call Parks and Recreation at 419-354-6223.

The facility is not seen as a replacement to the student recreation center, but does welcome all community members. It is not expected to have an impact on use of the rec.

“We’re real pleased about it. I think the community is long overdue,” said Richard Bowers, director of recreational sports and assistant vice president for student affairs. “In reality we get a limited community usage of our recreation center facilities. The community center will serve a clientele that is different from ours.”

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