By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
St. Patrick Parish in London dedicated its new Parish Activity and Recreation Center (PARC) on Jan. 15.
The 13,000 square-foot facility is attached to the back side of St. Patrick School at 226 Elm St. It is designed to serve the school, the parish and the community.
The main feature is a gymnasium sporting a high school regulation size basketball court, a stage, and bleachers that can seat up to 300 people. Two large storage rooms house physical education equipment and banquet chairs and tables. A large concession stand and rest rooms are located in the hallway just outside the gym.
Construction began last June and finished up in time for the school to use the facility for Christmas concerts before winter break and a basketball shoot-around for alumni during winter break.
“We use it every day for P.E. classes and chapel service,” said Dr. Jacob Froning, principal at St. Patrick School. The school serves a student population of 160.
The gym has six baskets and room to set up a main volleyball court and practice volleyball court. The school has already hosted several weekend basketball games for the Knights of Columbus Recreational League, the league in which St. Patrick fourth- through eighth-graders compete. The school PTO runs the concession stand during games as a fundraiser for the eighth-grade trip to Washington D.C.
The stage is equipped with ramp access, a sound system, lighting, and an 18-foot wide retractable screen with projection mounted from the ceiling. The stage will be used for assemblies, performances and other productions.
“We’re hoping to do an all-school music revue of hit songs from popular musicals,” Froning said. “Eventually, we’d like to get into small musical type productions.”
In addition to school use, the St. Patrick congregation plans to utilize the facility for large dinners, funerals and fundraisers. It serves as an alternative to the smaller parish center at the church, located on East Second Street in downtown London.
The facility also is available for use by members of the community for banquets, weddings, reunions and other events. Rental fees apply. Food preparation can be done in the concession stand or the school kitchen. Hot carts are available to transport food from the kitchen down the hall to the gym.
The American Red Cross is holding its annual Hometown Heroes recognition breakfast at the facility this spring. The parish also is considering opening the gym to area senior citizens as an indoor place to walk.
“We’re trying to make it truly a multi-use facility,” Froning said. “It really is a godsend for us. This facility will serve us for many, many years—many, many generations.”
Students access the facility during the school day via an interior hallway. Visitors access it via a separate entrance equipped with a turn-around drive for drop-offs and extended parking from the existing parking lot off of Elm Street (State Route 38).
For more information about the Parish Activity and Recreation Center, call Dr. Jacob Froning at (740) 852-0161 or Fr. Mark V. Ghiloni at (740) 852-0942.