Plans for new Belmont Parks and Rec. Center moving forward
Belmont Parks and Rec. director Zip Stowe points to the spot where the new center will be located. Photo by Alan Hodge
By Alan Hodge
Back in 1951, African-American poet Langston Hughes wrote a work entitled A Dream Deferred. Even though the theme wasn’t about a new Parks and Rec. Center for Belmont, the basic idea of waiting a long time for something good to happen fits because the city has been in dire need of one for many years.
But that wait is in the planning stages of ending.
Belmont Parks and Rec. director Zip Stowe talked about the progress being made on getting a new, 40,000sq.ft. center built on the sloping ground on E. Catawba St. between the new municipal center building and Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park.
“We are entering the design phase of the new recreation center,” Stowe said. “A new center was number one on our list of Parks and Recreation Master Plan projects.”
Currently, Belmont uses the J. Paul Ford Recreation Center on E. Woodrow Ave. as its headquarters. This decades old structure only has room for a few offices and a linoleum-floored space in the center for things such as dance lessons and meetings.
“For our recreation programs we have been using larger spaces in churches and schools,” Stowe said. “The current center is very limited.”
Stowe has been doing some scouting to see what other municipalities have in the way of facilities. He’s roamed over North and South Carolina, and closer to home in Stanley, Mt. Holly, Cramerton, Gastonia, and Dallas.
“We are the only city of our size in this area without a recreation center,” he said. “Gastonia has five of them.”
Stowe says Belmont’s planned center will give taxpayers plenty of bang for the buck.
“We are trying for a multi-purpose facility,” he said. “It could have features such as several basketball courts and a walking track on the upper level.”
Actual cost will depend on the final design.
According to Stowe, CPL Architects in Charlotte has been given the nod for designing the new center.
“Once we get the design finalized, we will take it to the city council in the fall,” He said. “If everything works out, construction on the building could start next year.”
Stowe says that citizen input is playing a big role in how the building will be configured. A committee of local business and civic leaders, city staff, citizens, and groups such as the Gadabouts are being asked for input. There’s a survey on the city’s Facebook page for suggestions. There will be focus meetings on May 19 and 20 that people can listen in on via the city website.
Stowe is excited about the new recreation center and what it means to Belmont.
“I feel great about it,” he said. “It will enhance the quality of life for our citizens.”