Clayton County Commissioner Michael Edmondson’s family walks around the outdoor pool area of the South Clayton Recreation Center during its grand opening in Lovejoy Saturday.
LOVEJOY Lovejoy High School student Jabree Tyson sat on a bench in one of the South Clayton Recreation Center’s two gyms during a break from a game of pick-up basketball with his friends Saturday.
He was one of the first people to use the new center, which officially opened this weekend. His face was covered in sweat from all of the running, shooting and rebounding he’d done on the court. He had to pause every other second to catch his breath.
Then he smiled and said he’d found his new after school hang out.
“It’s really nice and the court has a nice grip on it,” Tyson said. “I’m going to be up here whole weekends, and at least three hours a day during the week.”
Hundreds of residents from across the southern Clayton County reveled in their new recreation center, located at 1837 McDonough Road, during its grand opening festivities Saturday.
In addition to the two gymnasiums, the 60,000-square foot facility features a workout area, and elevated walking track, an aerobics room, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a splash pad for children, an art room, a game room, a community room, meeting space, a dance studio, wi-fi internet and a computer lab that houses 24 computers.
“I think it’s great,” said Lovejoy resident LaToshia Gray. “This is exactly what we’ve needed for awhile in our community. This is a good opportunity for people to really see their government in action, and to see what their tax dollars are paying for.”
Nicole Horne, the center’s recreation administrator said Clayton County Parks and Recreation hopes the center will serve as “a place for the community to come in and exercise, particularly some place for the teenagers to come and participate in organized, structured activities so that they’re not all out in streets with nothing to do.”
She said the last few bits of furniture — mostly the weight lifting equipment — are expected to arrive by April 15.
The Clayton County Police Department also moved its South Clayton Police Precinct from Tara Boulevard to the center. Horne said the center’s staff will conduct programs aimed at getting children to feel comfortable around police.
“I think this will be considered one of our safest facilities,” she said. “Participants will feel better about coming because the police department is our partner and they are located here on our property.”
The center was a source of controversy in January when the Clayton County Board of Commissioners chose to strip it of its original name — the Wole Ralph Recreation Center — and give it the name it now carries.
Proponents of the change argued Ralph’s name was not the top choice among participants in a naming contest, while opponents argued the former commissioner had been instrumental in getting the facility built and therefore deserved to have his name on the center.
However, Commissioner Shana Rooks did not let the festivities pass without recognizing Ralph’s contributions. Rooks, who defeated Ralph in his re-election bid last year, praised his efforts to get recreation centers built during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“He was instrumental in fighting to have the recreation centers built,” Rooks said.