It took more than two years, several community meetings and countless question-and-answer periods between Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation staff and members of the Westchase community.
But on Thursday, July 12, all that will come to fruition when Hillsborough County Commissioners will break ground on the new gymnasium at the Westchase Recreation Center.
The $2-million project will be a 10,000-square-foot gymnasium addition to the recreation center. The space will provide a centralized location in northwest Hillsborough County to accommodate basketball, volleyball and other organized indoor activities.
"We’re doing this as an expansion project but really it's building a whole new gym," said Steve Valdez, spokesman for the Hillsborough County's Public Works Department. "It’s really a neat project."
The gym expansion will be completed in September 2013 and is being funded by the Hillsborough County Community Investment Tax.
At least 200-250 more people would be accommodated by the new space. The new construction will also include 40-50 more parking spaces.
"I do know that there are a lot of happy parents and teachers with the additional parking the expansion has provided for Westchase Elementary," said Andrea Piacitelli, president of Westchase Elementary PTA. "I also know that several parents and children love what the recreation center offers - it is quite the popular hang out for kids after school."
The current Westchase Recreation Center is small compared to others in the county, but one of the most popular, said Kemly Green, a county spokeswoman. The county's Rec2Six prgram is offered there and provides after-school care for children in grades one through five, following the Hillsborough County school calendar.
To prepare for construction the current playground at the recreation center will be closed on July 16 and moved to another location on the property. The new location will reopen two weeks later, Green said.
"We'll still have all our programs running but the playground will close," Green said.
Once the construction is complete in September 2013, "All our programs will continue the same," Green said. "But we'll be able to expand them."
What do you think about the new gym? Let us know in the comments section.