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The new facility would have six pickleball courts

New rec center a go

By Michael Butler

Tallassee Mayor Sarah Hill confirmed that plans are to move forward with the construction of a new recreation center. Hill said the city shop behind the current facility on Gilmer Avenue will be moving to a new building to be built on property owned by the city adjacent to the airport in East Tallassee.

"It's a vehicle graveyard now," Hill said of the area where the city shop now sits behind the rec center. "It'll be good for us to better identify what we need to move out there. We're happy to be able to get a new building for them so they can utilize that space better."

Approximately $10 million is being allocated for recreational projects through funds collected from lodging taxes in Elmore County. Athletic fields are priority one at Tallassee, Eclectic and Holtville.

Tallassee is adding synthetic turf to its practice and playing fields at J. E. "Hot" O'Brien Stadium. Work will begin soon on replacing grass on the practice field. The playing field work would ensue after the 2024 season.

The county estimated $2.5 million for the turfing project. What remains of the $10 million would be applied to the rec center build with the city chipping in what is necessary to complete the project.

"There's definitely a new rec center that is coming," said Hill. "I think we're looking at an $8.5-9 million facility. The city will have a little bit of money that we have from our American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and some other projects where we've sold different pieces of property."

Original drawings identifying Priorities I, II and III

Drawings have not been finalized for the center, but Hill and Tallassee Parks and Recreation Director Eric Phillips have reviewed the initial sketches.

"It's an open floor plan with lots of glass," Phillips said. "It's really nice. Hopefully, in two to three weeks we'll have some elevation plans."

Replacing the 50-plus year old center that was transormed from a National Guard Armory will not be the only upgrade. Another substantial asset will be more space. The current center is just under 15,000 square feet. The proposed complex would be about 32,000.

The main gym would grow from one to two full-sized basketball courts. The multi-use space would also accommodate two volleyball courts and six pickleball courts. Weight rooms and cardio rooms would be expanded from their current size. There would also be locker rooms, showers/restrooms, offices, a conference room and flex space.

"They're expecting to let this whole project out in March of 2025," Hill added. "We're going to try and continue to use the current center until we move into the new one. That will come down and there will be a lot of parking.

"This is coming to fruition. They came in with three sets of drawings. We chose one of the options to move forward. Hopefully, we'll start getting those in a 3-D situation and will be able to share them."