By Lauren Fulbright
The long-awaited recreation center for the Arbutus community is expected to offer a variety of programming in its huge new quarters at 855 Sulphur Spring Road.
"I'm very, very pleased," said George Kendrick, treasurer and former president of the Arbutus Recreation & Parks Council. "It's going to benefit the community greatly."
Kendrick, who has coached local sports since 1942, said he has been advocating for a recreation center in the area for about 25 years.
He said programming has been limited in the past because local recreation programs were dependent on space at area schools and those spaces were often crowded with activities.
"This is going to open it up for new programs in the community," Kendrick said.
The ribbon cutting for the new recreation center, senior center and library project at the site, which cost nearly $11 million, will be Tuesday, Aug. 24, at 11 a.m.
The library opened to the public on Aug. 10 and the senior center is expected to host a similar "soft opening" Aug. 23.
Bud Chrismer, deputy director of Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks, said construction on the recreation center building is almost done and will be ready for the ribbon cutting.
Chrismer said programming at the center will begin as soon as Labor Day (Sept. 6).
The rec center's 9,000 square feet will include a gym and a multi-purpose room, Chrismer said.
"It allows us to offer more opportunities, for more people, during more hours of the day," he said.
Chrismer noted that the recreation department had previously been dependent on school gyms, which are not available to the public during the day.
The new facility means local rec programs will now have control of their own building.
"This gives us latitude to program in there from seven in the morning until 11 o'clock at night," he said.
Chrismer said the new gym will be used for basketball, which starts in late October, and a variety of other sports and activities.
It will also accommodate sports such as cheerleading, that are growing in the county, he said.
Five years ago, cheerleading was "barely on the radar screen," Chrismer said. "And now it's huge."
Because the gym's lighting is protected, it could also be used for indoor soccer, which is popular in the county, he said.
The multi-purpose room will be used for meetings and more "passive" forms of recreation, Chrismer said.
For example, it could be used by a chess club or small karate or dance programs, he said.
Chrismer said programming will be scheduled by the Arbutus rec council, which will manage the center along with Baltimore County staff.
He said community members interested in starting or helping with programs should attend a council meeting, which take place at 8 p.m. the last Monday of every month at the Halethorpe Elementary School/Recreation Center.