An outdoor recreation center is in the works for the Huddleston area, which could open as early as May 1.
Called Huddleston Veterans Memorial Courts, it will include a basketball court, street/roller hockey rink and pickleball courts and will be located at 3348 Trading Post Road in Huddleston.
“Many men and women have given much of themselves in service to our nation,” states the project’s mission statement. “This facility is being built to honor the service of our veterans and to provide a first class recreational facility to the community of Huddleston. This facility recognizes the selflessness and courage of veterans, while helping to prepare today’s youth for the challenges of tomorrow through sport and healthy competition.
Mitchell’s Point Marina owner Jeff Prowse is leading the project, investing $60,000 of his company. It has also received support from businesses in the region and receives donations from the public. To help fund the project, anyone can purchase engraved bricks to commemorate a veteran, an aspect of the center that is important to Prowse, who is a veteran himself. The bricks will be in what is called the Huddleston Memorial Courts Circle of Honor.
“Everyone has been very magnanimous, donating time or material or whatever,” Prowse said. “And the vision is basically that it’s a memorial trail… but it’s basically a place for kids to hang out. And, you know, learn teamwork, learn self-control and all those things.
The idea of the outdoor center was born from a community need. Since there are 83 campsites in the area, he said campers set up a small area a few years ago for the kids to play basketball. however, it was near a busy road.
After buying land near the marina on Craddock Creek – mainly to have access to another well – there was plenty of space available, so the idea of installing a basketball court came up. Since there is a need for outdoor activity space in the area, the project evolved to include a roller hockey rink and pickleball courts, and open it up to the whole community.
The hockey council is made possible with the help of Liberty University, where he and his wife coach. Prowse said he coached ice hockey and was always involved in youth sports.
Although Prowse never played pickleball, his friends urged him to include the courts. Once the first phase of the project is complete — hopefully by May 1 — Prowse said the sequel will be community-focused.
Should there be tennis courts and another basketball court? It depends on what the community wants, he said.
Eventually, Prowse plans to have more surveillance with keyless access. Anyone can use the recreation center but will need to sign a release form. This would ensure a “nice, safe and secure place for children to play,” Prowse said.
“Who knows what comes after that, but I want to focus on getting the kids out there and having them play,” Prowse said. “And then we’ll worry about the landscaping and additions to the place first, but my big thing is basketball and roller hockey – ride that and go really fast – and then we can always add more stuff later.”
The project is fully funded by the community without any government involvement.
Prowse said he had “the patience of a midge” so he didn’t want to go through the process of applying for county government assistance or grants. However, once the recreation is established, if the local or state government wants to help with its future growth or sustainability, they are open to it.
Prowse is also considering a sports camp with summer leagues for kids and adults for basketball and roller hockey, but those are ideas for years to come.
“We at Mitchell’s Point Marina see this as an investment in our nation’s future,” states the project’s mission statement. “When our children participate in team sports, they learn the values of dedication, cooperation, self-control and a myriad of other positive lessons.”
At present, Prowse is concentrating on building the foundations. He envisions it being open 24/7 starting in May, but it has been difficult to get commercial basketball goals. Other milestones are site maintenance and outdoor lighting.
Initial project needs are expected to cost less than $100,000, but may increase based on community donations.
“It’s going to be a huge asset to the community, and of course here it’s going to increase people’s property values because it’s going to be near a nice park and all that kind of stuff,” Prowse said. “But I mean, the sky’s the limit.”
Those wishing to purchase a memorial brick to honor a veteran can visit www.bricksrus.com/donorsite/huddlestonvmc. Prices start at $100. For more information, email Prowse at [email protected] (put “Huddleston VMC” in the subject line).
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