By Tamas Mondovics

The county’s 2011 plan to consolidate its recreation centers, which included cutting back the number of full-service facilities to ten regional sites, was received with mixed feeling by the community, with many protesting the changes in hopes of altering the direction.

Fast forward to today, now Hillsborough County officials have announced its effort to complete the process by conducting public meetings involving the expansion of several regional sites, including Ruskin, Gardenville and Progress Village, as well as to receive comments and discuss the next step.

“We are talking about the expansion of those regional sites to become truly full-service facilities,” said County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Manager, Shorty Robbins. “The construction of these facilities is movement towards fulfilling that strategic goal.

As part of the project, Robbins was specifically referring to the building of gymnasiums that were approved in the County’s 2012-2013 fiscal year budget and include full-size gym additions to Northdale, Gardenville and Ruskin, a new community center and gym at Larry Sanders Park in the Progress Village and Winston area, and an addition to the existing gym at Jackson Springs.

“The new gyms will be similar to the facility currently under construction at Westchase, where the gym will be integrated into the existing building, and will be programmed by the current staff,” Robbins said.

In the case of Larry Sanders Park, the new facility will replace Winston Park as the regional community center, but Winston will continue to be actively programmed with special interest and community programs.

The new gym facilities will be approximately 10,000 sq. ft., each with an approximately $2.2 million budget.

The Larry Sanders site will also include a new community center, will be approximately 16,000 sq. ft. and has a $3.5 million budget.

The meeting in connection with building a new 9-10,000 sq. ft. multi-purpose recreation center in the Ruskin area was held at the Ruskin Recreation Center, located 901 6th St. SE in Ruskin.

County officials said that the Ruskin Capital Improvement Project will cost approximately $1.5 million for construction, and $150,000 for site work.

The Progress Village Recreation center is located at 8701 Progress Blvd. in Tampa. Contact the Parks, Recreation and Conservation department at 635-3500.


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