As there is currently no recreation center in District VI, city officials including Dr. Marte Martinez came up with the idea to modify a North Central Park racquetball court into a humble but well-equipped fitness center for park and gym goers as well as families.
On Monday, Martinez cut the ribbon to the new facility, situated next to the park’s pool and single racquetball court. According to J.J. Gomez, the City of Laredo’s Parks & Recreation Director, the gym was normally used for seniors, but Nov. 15 will see the reopening of all rec centers to the public throughout the city.
Both Gomez and Martinez said that the gym was built based on the requests of the District VI constituents. The request was brought up during a town hall meeting asking for the facility, and it uses approximately $115,000 of district priority funds for the center.
“When we were there, there were many residents that were asking for this type of facility. They wanted to let me know that they wanted a very large rec center,” Martinez said.
The city councilman added that the challenge of allocating over a $1 million for a large rec center would be compounded by the extra millions of annual costs for upkeep.
Martinez added that he believed the facility built was a creative way to allocate current funds into building a rec center that was manageable and had a small footprint. To do so, research was made to ensure that removing a court would not impede racquetball players from playing; Martinez said that studies indicated that the park could move forward with modifying one court and still meet the needs of those players.
He also emphasized that the facility will complement the Parks & Rec bike service that lends out bicycles to park goers. He noted that as of the Monday, over 6,000 have been used since the start of the program.
District priority funds are set apart for districts as part of the capital improvement program to help meet the needs of each councilmember for their district, according to Assistant City Manager Riazul Mia. Councilmembers can propose brick and mortar projects that fit their needs to receive the funding. As the fitness center only required $115,000, it was faster to allocate this funding, he added.
The size and location of the new facility will also have a reduced overall cost that can be managed by Parks & …….