Twenty years later, the community gathering place Massillon Rec Center

MASSILLON — It was a plan that began years before Jay Boodheshwar became the director of the city’s parks department.

In the mid-1990s, voters agreed to raise the city’s income tax with the new revenue spent on improving city parks, adding trails, and eventually building recreation Center.

Seven years later, on June 12, 2002, the promise to open a center was kept.

It may have been 20 years ago, but Boodheshwar remembers it like it was yesterday.

“I remember working with staff, city council, the mayor (Frank Cicchinelli) and other city departments to prepare for the grand opening,” he said. “I still remember it vividly, standing with the mayor and council. I remember the speeches. It was a really special moment.”

On June 24, the city will celebrate the 20th anniversary with a day of events and an open house at the facility, 505 Erie St. N. Residents are invited to free hot dogs and drinks from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by an open house and family activities from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The Up in Smoke BBQ food truck will be on site from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and “Encanto” will be presented on the lawn at 8:45 p.m. Free popcorn will be served.

A group of teenagers play a basketball game Friday at the Massillon Rec Center.  The establishment is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Massillon Leisure Center offerings include basketball, fitness room and running track

Boodheshwar, who left the city in 2006 and headed south to Florida, joined Massillon in late 2000.

A lot had already been done when Boodheshwar intervened.

Taxpayer money approved by taxpayers years earlier had already paid for the new community park along Finefrock Road SW.

“A lot of things had already been done, but I had to finish the design of the leisure center and then build the center,” he recalls. “It was the highest-profile project on this list.”

The $9.5 million center was paid with additional income tax of 0.3%.

The project felt like a start-up, Boodheshwar explained, noting that it was starting from scratch. He had to build a team and create policies to get the facility up and running.

Ron Pribich, a former Parks and Recreation Board member who helped bring the facility to fruition, said there was excitement around the new center.

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Prior to the facility’s opening, nearly 1,400 people signed up for membership, just 100 fewer than the target of 1,500. At least 15% of memberships were from nonresidents, said managers when the establishment opened.

“We had people coming down while it was being built checking it all the time,” Pribich recalls. “It’s one of the best things that has happened to Massillon in the past 50 years.”

The over 60,000 square foot building includes gymnasiums; a bathing area, including water slides, a lazy river and a children’s play area; weight and fitness rooms; a running track; and other amenities.

There are two full size basketball courts which can be divided into four courts and set up for volleyball and pickleball. They host a number of tournaments and leagues throughout the year.

The property also offers meeting and party rooms.

Shortly after the facility opened, officials realized they had already outgrown the space and with the help of a grant from the Aultman Health Foundation, they were able to add weight rooms. and fitness.

“Within a year and a half, we were packed,” Boodheshwar said.

Paul Britton of Massillon trains at the Massillon Rec Center on Friday June 10, 2022.

The recreation center is a major asset for the community of Massillon

The excitement around the Rec Center continues two decades later.

“I think everyone appreciates the recreation center using it,” Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry said. “Whether it’s for exercise, bodybuilding, partying or sports for the kids, it’s a great asset to the Massillon community and it’s affordable.

Today, the recreation center has about 2,200 members and about 10,000 visits per month, said Steve Pedro, director of parks and recreation.

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Membership numbers fluctuate over the years and are down slightly, but Pedro said there were a number of gyms in town that didn’t exist when the facility opened.

Non-residents are welcome to join the recreation center and there are a number of membership plans and different levels of payment for taxpayers, non-residents, seniors and veterans, Pedro added.

The facility has a large number of families and seniors who take advantage of the many programs. From swimming lessons to fitness classes to a game of pickleball, Pedro said they try to deliver what members ask for.

Many organizations use the facilities for special events such as after-prom or for parties and meetings.

“I think it’s a great addition to the city,” he said. “It gives families a place to go to enjoy fitness and fun activities.”

Fitness equipment and classes are updated regularly.

The children’s pool splash area remains closed while they continue to repair the space. It has been closed for over a year. Work began in November to repair a leak below the splash zone. Supply chain delays and other issues delayed the project.

Pedro said the majority of the work is complete. As soon as they get the final approvals and a few things settled, the getting started area will open.

Children’s pool:The $400,000 renovation of the Massillon Rec Center’s children’s pool is scheduled for mid-March

“As soon as that happens, I’ll put a neon sign on the front (of the building),” Pedro joked. “It’s in high demand. It just takes a lot longer to do.”

As for the future, Pedro said he has a lot of ideas, but many of them require funding.

“My goal is to make sure that we move forward and give people what they want and need to improve,” he added.

As for Boodheshwar, the installation is his legacy.

“I’m proud that it still serves the purpose that it was intended to bring families, people together in a social environment and also an exercise environment,” he said. “It’s a community center. It’s where the community goes and that’s a really good thing.”

To learn more about the Recreation Center, https://www.massillonparks.com/.

Contact Amy at 330-775-1135 or [email protected]

On Twitter: @aknappINDE

The Massillon leisure center celebrates its 20th anniversary this month.

Happy Birthday

The Massillon Rec Center, 505 Erie Ave. N, will celebrate its 20th anniversary on June 24. Here’s how the establishment celebrates:

  • 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Free hot dogs and drinks
  • 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Open house and family activities
  • 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Q92 show with prizes to be won
  • 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Up in Smoke BBQ food truck
  • 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.: Free outdoor movie “Encanto” and popcorn

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