A cool reopening

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By Sandi Latimer
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Sandi Latimer Mayor Michael Coleman leans over Sidney Sinclaire to help cut a ceremonial ribbon marking the reopening of the renovated Westgate Recreation Center. The building, erected in 1963, was gutted and renovated during a 17-month period. The $5.5 million project included installation of air conditioning.
Messenger photo by Sandi Latimer
Mayor Michael Coleman leans over Sidney Sinclaire to help cut a ceremonial ribbon marking the reopening of the renovated Westgate Recreation Center. The building, erected in 1963, was gutted and renovated during a 17-month period. The $5.5 million project included installation of air conditioning.

To Denica Grube, the newly renovated Westgate Recreation Center has, among other amenities, a dance floor with springs beneath it – and air conditioning!

To Jeananne Douglas, the center has an elevator – and air conditioning!

To Alan McKnight, director of Columbus Parks and Recreation, the renovations now find restrooms on the second floor – and air conditioning!

Air conditioning for a 50-year-old building just renovated was one topic more than a 100 Westgate families and city officials heard about when they turned out Oct. 16 for the grand reopening of the center at the east edge of Westgate Park that had been closed for 17 months for $5.5 million worth of work.

During that time, a 4,300-square foot addition was erected on the south side of the building. The main building put up in 1963 still stands, but it was gutted and refurbished.

“When we built this center, air conditioning didn’t seem that important,” McKnight said as several in the standing-room-only crowd in the auditorium snickered.

Besides the much-appreciated air conditioning, practically everything is new. New windows, new cabinetry, new flooring, classrooms in the basement and on the second floor, an exercise room, a gymnastics room, and a parents’ area where they can peer through windows to watch their children at work or at play, Columbus Recreation and Parks officials were proud to point out.

During the time the center was closed, children had activities and even the center’s Community Recreation Council met at Holton Recreation Center.

The CRC provides volunteers for special events, purchases awards for athletic teams, purchases athletic, arts and drama equipment, contributes funds for group activities, sponsors the annual Egg Hunt in spring, a Halloween party in October, and holiday parties for families in December.

The council is governed by a board that currently has seven members, but can handle as many as 15 people, said Douglas who serves as president of the group.

Center leaders like Grube, the manager, are looking forward to the first big event, the annual Halloween Party at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 31.

Mayor Michael B. Coleman, who assisted in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the center, told the crowd he has often visited the area for the Halloween Party, handing out candy to trick or treaters.

New on the agenda are such classes as 50+ line dancing, Totally Core Workouts, Performance Arts classes, Belly Dancing, Irish and Scottish Dancing, and bucket drumming.

In bucket drumming, young children learn drumming by beating sticks on upturned plastic drums.

Registration for fall classes began Oct. 28, both online and in person. Fall classes run from Nov. 4 through Dec. 20.

A Fitness Resolution Solution, a free, family-friendly event set for Jan. 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., offers families the opportunity to sample the fitness classes and equipment.

The center will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays. The center is closed Sundays and Mondays.

Most classes are free, but some do carry a small fee for supplies.

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