GIBSONTON – For more than 20 years the Concerned Citizens of Gibsonton have fought for a safe place where kids and adults could congregate. With the addition of a new neighborhood gymnasium to be built by the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation adjacent to the Gardenville Recreation Center, the two-decades-old goal will finally be realized.
“It’s a fabulous victory, a long time in coming,” said Lee Stevens, president of the Concerned Citizens group. “It will be great for everyone in the community. We’ll all benefit.
“We especially thank Commissioner Sandy Murman for her help and support in seeing this project come to fruition.”
Murman was on hand Feb. 24 for the gym’s ground-breaking ceremony.
“This $1.7 million facility will be a gathering place for families in this community,” she said. “I’m proud to be here not only as a commissioner but also as a friend and neighbor.”
Murman recognized the Concerned Citizens’ Pete and Jeanie Johnson and Gardenville Rec Center’s Dave Ramirez for their ongoing involvement and support over the years in bringing the project full circle. When a new recreation center building was finally opened in 2005, a new gym was supposed to be built soon after. But when the economy went south the county’s capital projects list went with it and the project was eliminated.
Six years later Parks, Recreation and Conservation adopted the concept of regional, “super rec centers” and smaller satellite sites were eliminated. The programs at those sites were moved to the regional centers.
A study done for the 2012-13 parks and recreation budget determined a need for more recreational options for residents at the regional sites and as a result the gymnasium for Gibsonton went back on the major projects list, said Ramirez, who supervises programs for facilities in Riverview, Gibsonton, Apollo Beach and north Ruskin.
Ramirez said the 9,500-square-foot gymnasium will be a multipurpose facility, featuring special “spring” flooring that will provide shock absorption for athletes of all ages who play volleyball, basketball and pickleball; a 700-square-foot weight room “hopefully to include fitness equipment like treadmills, ellipticals and steppers” that the current weight room lacks; office space and restrooms. Special-interest classes like Zumba, karate, dance and cheerleading may also take place there.
And offerings for athletic leagues, tournaments, classes and other events to be held at the new gymnasium will be extended.
Construction is under way and expected to be completed early next year.
Melanie Morrison, executive director of the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce, was among several speakers at the ceremony.
“I want to echo everyone’s excitement,” she said. “Everything that’s happening in the county right now is happening in South Shore.
“As a mother, I have a soft spot for places like this,” Morrison continued. “They keep the community tight-knit by providing safe places for families to go and congregate.”