GJ Parks and Recreation looks at future rec center

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- City leaders say the community of Fruita grew closer 27 months ago with the opening of the Fruita Community Center. Now, it looks like Grand Junction may have a similar opportunity.

Park and Recreation officials say they receive calls almost daily of people asking if Grand Junction has a recreation center, or has any plans to build a community center. Right now, those ideas are in the very preliminary stages of planning, but officials say it could become a reality at Matchett Park.

In a space out near 28 1/4 Road, a new vision is brewing for Grand Junction Parks and Recreation. City officials are currently working on beginning a master plan to reconstruct Matchett Park into an active park like Canyon View.

"One of the real exciting pieces to that master plan will be an optional recreation center for that site," Grand Junction Parks and Recreation director Rob Schoeber said. "I think Grand Junction is long overdue [for a community center]."

The planning is in the baby stages, but this future community center could become a place for everyone to access.

Right now, the Fruita Community Center gives many Grand Junction residents that community feeling rec centers offer.

"About 60 percent of the people who pay over the counter are not from Fruita," Fruita Parks and Recreation director Ture Nycum said of the center’s visitors.

Those who use the center say it creates a team mentality to make everyone stronger.

"It’s just a really strong sense of community," Fruita Community Center member James Williams said. "Everybody is definitely on the same team, wants the same goals for each other. Everybody just wants to see each other get healthy, see our community get healthy."

Unlike a gym that offers cardio and weights, officials and members say community centers offer options for young, old and everyone in-between. The Fruita Community Center offers pools, courts, a senior center, daycare and library access in addition to classes and other activities.

"We’re a town that's got a lot of older people, and there's quite a few here, but there are also lots of them in the Junction area," Fruita Community Center member Cliff Vashus said.

The consensus from Fruita is it's a no brainer: Grand Junction could really benefit from a community center.

"A lot of the community center really truly becomes a heartbeat of the community," Nycum said. "There's definitely, I think, room for the Grand Valley to have one or two more of these types of facilities."

The Grand Junction parks and recreation office plans on talking to the public in a series of public forums in the coming months. It wants to get as much feedback on a new center as possible during the master planning process.

Writing the master plan will take place this summer. GJ Parks and Recreation has already applied for a planning grant through GOCO.

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