Residents reflect on first year in new recreational center - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Residents reflect on first year in new recreational center

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) -

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - It's been a year now since Long Beach opened its multi-million dollar Activity and Senior Citizen Center on Daugherty Road, and it seems residents are taking full advantage. City officials say from meetings to dances to ball game, there is always some activity taking place in the building or on the surrounding property. While a lot of progress has been done, Long Beach is still looking for ways to improve.

Linda Dice likes to start her day with an early morning workout at the Long Beach Activity and Senior Citizens Center.

"I feel better about myself when I walk and exercise," said Dice. "This is a wonderful building they have here. We're happy to have it in Long Beach. "

Seniors can enjoy strolls on the indoor walking track, sitting down for a game of cards or dominoes and classes on how to create beautiful ceramics. However, they say the best time is the time spent talking with their friends and neighbors.

"The atmosphere and being around friends that I hadn't seen in a long time," Dice said. "It's just good to get out and see friends, new friends, old friends. "

Connie Blackwell said she also comes for the company.

"I like all the people, the director and the cook. She is very good, and she cooks good. I enjoy the ceramics and anything else that we do here."

By afternoon, the gym transforms from walking track to site for pick up basketball games. The players say before this facility came along, they did all their dribbling outside.

Russell Moody said, "It's good not to have a heat stroke when you're outside playing ball. We get to be in the AC. It keeps everything more organized, you know. So I love being able to come in the gym. Even when it's raining, we can come in and play, so that's a good thing."

Officials say $6.5 million in grants and donations built this 29,000 square-foot building. Since it opened a year ago, officials said it's been nonstop activities.

"It's tripled our workload when we got this building, but it's well worth it," said Robert Paul, Long Beach Parks and Recreation Director. "The kids love it. Everybody who comes in here who utilizes this building can't believe that it's in Long Beach. It's such a nice building. We're very fortunate to have it."

Paul said, "We'll expand from here. It's a slow process but every day we try to make a step forward."

Long Beach officials say before Hurricane Katrina, baseball, basketball, and senior citizens activities were all held at different sites. They say consolidating the programs to Daugherty Road is saving time and money.

"Our eventual goal is to have all our facilities out here on this 86 acres site," Paul said. "All our basketball, baseball, softball, football. It would be nice to have them all here, so we could maintain them. It would be a lot easier to maintain, and everything is under one location."

Long Beach seniors are looking forward to the start of a new pottery class and dance classes. They say they're grateful their city cares about providing fun opportunities to residents of all ages.

Blackwell said, "There's nothing else to do here but this. So I really enjoy it."

Parks and Recreation Director Robert Paul says the city is also doing a forest restoration program on the site. There are plans for an outdoor walking track but the funding for that has not been finalized yet.

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