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2013 a hopping year for Grovetown community center

Posted: January 15, 2014 - 12:08am
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Mechele Davis leads a line-dancing class at Liberty Park Community Park. The park, which opened in 2006, has become the site for more activities in recent years. There are usually several programs going on most evenings and weekends.   Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Mechele Davis leads a line-dancing class at Liberty Park Community Park. The park, which opened in 2006, has become the site for more activities in recent years. There are usually several programs going on most evenings and weekends.

Grovetown’s community center is a hopping place.

Most weeknights, area residents flock to Liberty Park Community Center to work out or participate in one of the many programs held there.

“We probably have more coming in for the classes,” said Jennifer Evans, the Special Events Coordinator who oversees the community center. “I think the more classes that we had here, the more people in the community found out about us and it went from there.”

On any given weeknight, Evans said, a steady stream of members come in to use the fitness room as well as to attend a variety of classes, including Zumba, martial arts, hula or line dancing.

The center also is home to several athletic programs, including Sports Academy South, Pop Warner and a basketball league.

Gemma Varado has been leading Zumba classes at the community center for about four years. It was the perfect location for her to serve the Grovetown area.

“I really wanted to be able to do something for most of the women that were close by to me that I knew wouldn’t be willing to go to a gym but wanted to exercise and meet other ladies,” Varado said. “It was a lovely facility and nice people that worked there.”

Most of the women who attend Varado’s biweekly classes come from within a 2-mile radius, she said.

As the activities increase, Varado said those holding classes work together on scheduling to ensure everyone gets a chance to use the community center.

“I love it. It’s a great part of it,” Varado said. “It’s a community center, so if they need to use it for others, we kind of try to work it out. It’s a great place. It’s definitely reflecting people wanting to stay local.”

The community center opened on Newmantown Road in early 2007. The multipurpose building includes a gymnasium, a fitness room and two multipurpose rooms. The facility also includes four baseball fields and a walking track.

Mayor George James said city officials once considered allowing large or corporate groups such as The Family Y to manage and use the facility and run programs. But they opted instead to bring in someone to manage the city’s special events and promote the facility. Evans took the job in the fall of 2011.

James attributes much of the community center’s growth in the last year or two to Evans’ efforts. She helped change the common thinking that community centers were simply places for family reunions and children’s birthday parties.

“When we brought her on board to really promote the place,” James said, “she really got out there and promoted it.”

In addition to classes most evenings, lots of regular members and private or community events are held nearly every weekend. Evans said the Cal Ripkin Baseball League will begin using the facility as the hub of a new children’s baseball league.

Since opening in 2007, Evans said more and more people are joining the community center for the fitness facilities. A fitness room includes a variety of machines including treadmills, cross-trainers and a Lifecycle.

“I really think a big part of that is that our rates are so affordable,” Evans said. “It’s worth it to us to have the affordable rate because it’ll get used.”

Rates range from $40 for six months or $75 a year for individual city residents and $105 and $175 respectively for nonresidents to $100 a year for family resident memberships and $50 a year for senior residents.

James said people enjoying the facility like they are is exactly what city officials envisioned when they agreed to build it.

“We always wanted to see it being really utilized,” James said.

For more information about the community center, call (706) 860-7691.

LIBERTY PARK COMMUNITY CENTER

Where: 1040 Newmantown Road, Grovetown

Hours: 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; and 1-6 p.m. Sunday

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