ORANGE — The city of Orange is nearing completion of a recreation center that was part of an $8 million bond initiative passed by voters in December 2018.
The 18,000 square foot center cost $2.9 million to build.
City parks division manager James Lawrence said the project is tentatively expected to be completed in early July. Lawrence said the 2018 bond also included the $700,000 Orange Riverside Pavilion.
The city used the site of the old natatorium, located off West Orange Avenue, for the new recreation center.
“The building contains two full-sized basketball courts,” Lawrence said. “These can be converted into four full-size volleyball courts. At this point, we are still estimating July. We always have a contractor, and it depends on the flooring contractor. The building itself is completely new. Parts of the old foundation were used where we could. The natatorium structure was not built high enough to house a basketball court. You would touch the rafters.
The city hired Anthony Dandridge to work as the center’s manager.
“The purpose of the leisure center is that our citizens have somewhere to go, so they don’t have to travel to Port Arthur for the YMCA or to the Netherlands for their leisure,” said Dandridge. “We want them to have something at Orange that they can be proud of.”
Dandridge said the facility will offer lessons and free play in several sports, but added that the city has not yet determined what the prices for those activities will look like.
“We’re building the program from the ground up,” Lawrence said. “Anthony (Dandridge) has a lot of good things we can do, and we have to fit them into our budget. We have to go through the process to see what will work and what won’t work. We haven’t had a program recreation in the city since the early 90s.
Lawrence said the project is one of many the city has worked on in recent years to improve quality of life.
“That was one of Mayor (Larry) Spears’ projects that he wanted to see happen,” Lawrence said. “We want to give not only young people, but the citizens of Orange a good outlet to be active. We want them to be able to exercise and have a good time.