Work begins on Truxtun rec center

Much-delayed project now set for opening November 2009

December 21, 2008|By Susan Gvozdas | Susan Gvozdas,Special to The Baltimore Sun

After 20 years of planning, waiting and being pushed off schedules, construction finally has begun on the Annapolis Recreation Center at Truxtun Park.

Construction began Dec. 12 starting with the demolition of the 15,000-square-foot Griscom building. Workers are on an ambitious schedule to have the center completed by the end of Mayor Ellen O. Moyer's term in November.

"It should have been done two years ago," Moyer said. "We're behind."

Delays caused by budget concerns and petitions to change the design bumped up the cost of the project from $12.5 million a year ago to $14.4 million, due largely to the rising cost of steel, Moyer said. Scheibel Construction of Huntingtown will manage the construction.

The 80,000-square-foot building will be known as the Annapolis Recreation Center at Truxtun Park. A plaque within the building will honor Moyer's ex-husband, the former mayor Roger "Pip" Moyer. Pip Moyer, who was mayor from 1965 to 1973, had a special interest in youth centers and recreation programs.

A recreation center was first proposed in 1987 as part of the city's master plan for parks and trails. City officials set aside money in the capital budget for the project in the late 1990s, but the project kept getting pushed back because of budget constraints. To see construction crews finally at work is simply - well, thrilling, said LeeAnn Plumer, director of the city Department of Recreation and Parks.

"I'm trying to contain my excitement," said Plumer, whose office will be moved to the new building. "It's sort of surreal for some of the staff who have been here for 20 years."

The center, which replaces the Griscom Building, will be on a 6-acre site within an 80-acre wooded park. The center will house three indoor basketball courts, a four-lane track, dance rooms, an indoor play area and a fitness center. Two outdoor basketball courts will be rebuilt as part of the new complex.

"This will enable us to have an up-to-date facility in one place," Ellen Moyer said.

The new recreation building will have an environmentally friendly design, including a green roof with plants to reduce storm water runoff. The building will have a system to collect rainwater to be used to water the park's baseball field.

Visitors will enter through a 30-foot-wide promenade onto the middle level of the three-story building to gain access to the four-lane track. Intertwined ramps and stairs will take visitors down to the climbing wall and the three basketball courts.

Skylights and windows will allow for natural lighting in the entrance as well as the gym, said Jay Schwarz, an architect with Alt Breeding Schwarz Architects in Annapolis. The natural lighting will help reduce electricity use.

"The three-story climbing wall is surrounded by windows and light," he said. "Hopefully it will be a fun building to be in."

In addition to the building, the city expects to finish repairs of the boat ramps and piers this spring at Truxtun Park, one of the few public boat ramp facilities in Anne Arundel County. The $850,000 project will include replacing the ramps and upgrading the piers to be handicapped accessible. Environmental improvements to the shoreline, parking area and signs also will be done. The cost of the project will be covered in part by grants from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Waterway Improvement Fund and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Federal Sport Fish Restoration grant fund.

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