A recreation center in Mooresville could start undergoing safety modifications as soon as July so it can host larger sports tournaments and special events.
Opening no more than four years ago, the Talbert Recreation Center is not in poor condition. Instead, it is awaiting the upgrades to operate as an athletic center under the county occupancy code, town officials say.
“ … we are not fixing anything broken,” said Ryan Jones, supervisor of the Talbert center. He added: “ … the facility must go through a change-of-use process that ensures all safety measures are in place,” including accessibility requirements.
The center, on Talbert Pointe Drive, northwest of downtown, was acquired by the town about a year prior to its opening in early 2012.
Formerly occupied by a fitness company, it was retrofitted with the one safety feature it needed to operate under the occupancy code – a sprinkler system.
But to increase its capacity from the current limit of 600 people, it must undergo upgrades that include emergency lighting in its gymnasium, increasing ceiling heights in stairwells, improving exit signs and adjusting its heating and cooling system to reduce humidity. In addition, the work will entail adding a bathroom.
“It’s a project that’s needed,” said Kobeyeh Riley, supervisor of the town’s four recreation centers.
The town started receiving bids for the project in June and is expected to award a contract in July, when work could begin. The work is expected to finish in a couple of months, Jones said.
The upgrades will cost $85,000, which the town set aside in its 2015-16 budget. The $88.2 million budget was unanimously approved by commissioners on June 15.
The recreation center contains some 26,000 square feet, including two full-size basketball courts and spaces for aerobics and weightlifting. In addition to offering a number of programs for youth and adults, it has hosted regional and statewide youth sports tournaments in sports such as basketball, gymnastics and wrestling.
An average of about 2,000 turn out to each such event, Jones noted. He added that depending on the season, the center draws roughly 800 people per week, saying, “We do pretty well.”
The center is one of four that Mooresville runs, and before its opening, the town had only one other recreation center with basketball courts.
The longest-standing center is the War Memorial Center, on North Maple Street in downtown. Opening in 1949 as a monument to veterans of the first and second World Wars, the center includes indoor and outdoor pools and tennis courts, and it offers a range of activities, including after-school and fitness programs.
The town’s recreation department, for its part, has experienced some growth in recent years. In addition to the Talbert center, Mooresville also added the Selma Burke Community Center, on Agape Drive in downtown, in 2013.
Asked whether the town plans to open another recreation center in the near future, Riley noted that the recreation department is developing a master plan that will serve as a framework for recreation improvements over the next five to 15 years. The department is seeking public input for the plan, sending surveys to residents throughout Mooresville and south Iredell County. It expects to finalize it the plan in September.
Jake Flannick is a freelance writer. Have a story for Jake? Email him at email@example.com