By Tara Figurski
The Westgate Community Center will undergo a $5 million renovation, its first remodeling in about 50 years.
Columbus City Council approved the project last month and it is funded through Columbus Recreation and Parks bond money.
“Westgate is one of several recreation centers that are very old,” said Tyneisha Harden, city spokesperson.
The project includes a new fitness center, expanded multi-purpose room and the addition of air conditioning, Harden said, adding city officials want to install new HVAC systems in all community centers.
“With lots of kids, (no air conditioning) can be pretty brutal,” she said.
Alan McKnight, recreation and parks director, said the interior building will be remodeled. The multi-purpose room could be used for gymnastics, dance classes, aerobics, and Zumba classes.
“It is a big open space that can be used to expand our programming,” McKnight said. “The building was built in 1959 or 1960. It hasn’t had a major renovation since then.”
It was important to start improvements at Westgate, because of the building’s age and the state of its mechanical systems, according to McKnight.
“We are excited to be able to move forward with this improvement,” McKnight said. “The renovations will serve us for many years to come. We are excited to get it done and get the center back open.”
There are 29 recreation centers in the city, Harden said. Repairs and renovations are ongoing.
“We have a lot of centers, it is a challenge,” McKnight said. “There are a number that need improvements, but we can only do one or two at a time.”
The community center will be closed during renovations and is expected to reopen in June 2014, according to Harden.
Chuck Patterson, Greater Hilltop Area Commission chair, said he likes the plans for Westgate, because they are not limited to the elementary school or teenage crowd.
“I think over the years things have declined (and) deteriorated,” he said. “Overall the center has been kept up well compared to other centers in Columbus.”
Patterson said Friends of Westgate continues to work with the recreation and parks department. The organization planted flowers, painted a mural and kept the recreation center at the forefront of discussions, he said.
“It is a credit to them keeping Westgate so highly visible that it stayed on the radar,” Patterson said.
McKnight said the Glenwood Recreation Center is the next building to receive a facelift, followed by Holton Recreation Center.
“We are in the process of hiring the designer for those,” he said. “We will begin design work this year.”
The improvements are funded through the city of Columbus capital improvements program, with bond money approved by voters.
Columbus will ask voters to approve another bond in November, officials said.