By Matt Wiley
It appears as though the bustling New Tampa Recreation Center (NTRC) in Tampa Palms, which was expected to undergo an expansion this year, will remain at its current size for the foreseeable future.
In his 2014 City of Tampa Budget presentation on July 25, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced that his recommended budget for the City is $830.9 million, with about $103 million devoted to capital improvement projects, which include government, transportation, utilities and parks & recreation projects.
However, the expansion of the 19,500-sq.-ft. NTRC, a hub for local gymnasts, did not make it onto this year’s list of funded projects (although we mistakenly reported in our July 20 issue that the NTRC would be a funded project for 2013-14).
Instead, the Rec Center expansion has been pushed back until at least 2016.
“When I heard about the postponement of (the NTRC expansion), my heart sunk,” says City of Tampa District 7 Council member Lisa Montelione.
Last August, the City was in the process of designing a $1.5 million, 14,000-sq.-ft. addition to the NTRC, which, in addition to more space for storage, was to feature more gymnasium space, locker rooms, multi-purpose rooms and even a workout center for both kids and parents, as well as a rock-climbing wall. City Parks & Recreation department statistics show that the NTRC serves an average of 7,500 participants per year in its enrolled programs.
“In the initial design, we went through and included all of the things we’d love to have in the expanded NTRC,” says Parks & Rec director Greg Bayor. “The initial concept included many good elements, but once costs were associated with those elements it became our responsibility to make sure that only the essential needs were met.”
Bayor said last August that the Parks & Rec department hoped to begin construction this month, but the project had not yet been funded.
Now, the project will cost more than $850,000, about half of the cost of the initial design that was being considered last August.
“Last year, the Parks & Recreation department was working on a design for (the NTRC expansion), but there weren’t any funds allocated for it at that time,” says Ali Glisson, spokesperson for Mayor Buckhorn’s office. “It’s now being included in the 2016 budget because there are funds available (that year) for (the expansion).”
Glisson says that, in the meantime, Tampa-based architecture firm FleischmanGarcia — which originally designed the NTRC that opened in 2008 — will be refining the expansion designs.