By GARY POPP
Charlestown city officials are in the early phases of planning an estimated $4.2 million recreation center with indoor and outdoor features.
The Family Activities Center will be located across from the Charlestown High School football field on Park Street.
A skate park, built in the 2010, is already at the location and is the first project of the FAC’s first phase.
Charlestown Mayor Bob Hall said by spring 2013, he hopes to have completed a water-sprinkler park, badminton area, playground, picnic plaza with a covered area and a concession building offering light refreshments.
Hall said by 2014 or 2015 the city plans to have a miniature-golf course constructed at the recreation center, which would complete the project’s first phase.
The second phase has a more ambitious goal of constructing a large, multipurpose building complete with an indoor-swimming pool, banquet rooms and a cutting-edge, digital-gaming center.
“We are wanting to put in a YMCA-type facility. That is going to take a couple more years of planning and putting partnerships together,” Hall said. “I would love to see an indoor pool with a retractable wall that lets out into the sprinkle-park area.”
Hall said having an indoor-community pool would allow families to access the facility year round, and that increased usage would make the overall project more cost effective.
“It is an enormous expense for communities, if you don’t go big and have an actual water park,” Hall said. “You just don’t attract that many people, anymore [without offering water features].”
He added that a pool facility accessible to the public throughout the year also corresponds to Greater Clark County Schools’ plan to adopt a balanced-school calendar, which will result in abbreviated summer breaks for school kids.
He said plans for the multipurpose building also include family-party rooms available for rent and banquet space to seat 500 to 600 people that could host city-sponsored functions.
Hall said he would like to see high-tech video games made available to young people in the structure.
The city already hosts Nintendo Wii gaming events for children through the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, he said.
Hall said he’s unsure what type of high-tech video gaming systems will be on the market when the structure is nearing completion, but he is sure the city will integrate some sort of digital-gaming options.
Hall said he would like to see the YMCA take an interest in partnering with Charlestown for the addition of the multipurpose building, but added that the YMCA is not the city’s only option.
“There are other groups that are involved in family entertainment, health and fitness,” he said. “There are other options to partner.”
Hall said the funding to complete the project’s two phases will come from the city’s general budget, economic development income tax funds and other capital funds, and he thinks it could be completed under the current estimated budget.
“We have money to pay up front for this [initial] phase,” he said. “I am hoping when we get it all done, we are so far from the $4.2 million we can be excited about it.”
Hall said not only will the recreation features require funding, but the city is also budgeting the costs of lighting, fencing and parking areas.
“We will have to make a decision when the bids are coming in, do we want to do a bond, or do we want to do it up front,” he said.
The FAC is just the latest effort, Hall said, of city officials attempting to make Charlestown one of the most desirable communities in the area to call home.
“We have a lot of activities — Christmas, Founders’ Day, Star Wars — all the other things. This is just another component of the overall plan of becoming the best community to live and raise a family,” Hall said. “We believe strongly, for a community to have long-term health, youth and families have to have strong, positive memories connected to their home town.”