New Community Center Not Seeing Many Visitors

City leaders say anywhere from 200 to 250 people walk through the West Biloxi Community Center each day. Lots of folks get exercise on the indoor walking tracks or with just a game of basketball. But these numbers are a lot lower than what city leaders expected.

"They just don't know that it is open and what all we have," Center Supervisor Cara Bates said. "A lot of people think you have to have a memberships or you have to show an I.D. or be a Biloxi resident and you don't. You just sign in and it's free."

Those who work here say the center can hold up to 400 people at any given time, and even though they stay busy, they're just not seeing those numbers.

Twelve-year old Jesse Gurich is surely making use of the new facility. He says that every day this summer, he visited here from the time it opened in the morning until it closed at night.

"There's a lot of stuff to do when you're bored over the summer," Gurich said. "You can shoot basketball or arcades. There's an activity room. It's real fun."

Now that school is open, Jesse and many of his friends make their way here after school. But the center's pool and racquetball courts are empty. That's surprising for workers here who say there's something here for people of all ages.

Workers say all it takes is one visit and you'll be hooked.

"The minute people walk through the door, they are amazed," Bates said. "Stop by and check it out and you'll be amazed."

The youth program runs from 3 p.m to 6 p.m. each weekday for children ages 6 to 14. There are also several senior programs, from the walking club to senior luncheons. You can call 435-6185 for more information about activities at the center.