Oak Grove’s rec center

The Oak Grove Recreation Center has undergone renovations in excess of $250,000 since it was purchased from Marietta City Schools, with more upgrades still ahead.

“The committee has been working toward having everything organized and making the facility the best it can possibly be,” said Alan Bartlett, chairman of the Oak Grove Recreation Center Board.

The facility next to the Oak Grove Fire Department used to be a school, before it was closed down in 1973 due to budget cuts and consolidation, according to Bartlett.

In 2003, the Muskingum Township Board of Trustees purchased the land and building from Marietta City Schools for $75,000.

“When the building was first obtained it was being used as a storage facility for Marietta City Schools,” said Bartlett.

The hallways, stage and two of the classrooms had carpet installed and the building had new bathrooms installed in 2004, according to Bartlett.

Outside the facility renovations have included putting in a quarter-mile walking track, which cost $18,000, new playground equipment that cost $26,000 and a pavilion that cost about $30,000.

The walking track was completed in 2006 and the pavilion was just completed last fall.

“The pavilion is very nice because it’s covered and has electricity running to it,” said Bartlett. “It can handle parties or groups anywhere between 20 to 100 people.”

The renovations have greatly improved the quality of the center for those that regularly use it, he said.

For area resident Cathy Strahler the area outside the center serves as a great place to spend time with her nephew.

“I take my 6-year-old nephew to the playground on occasion,” said Strahler.

Since she lives only a few houses away from the facility, the walking path is also a great place to walk her dogs.

“With three dogs it can get to the point where they are walking me,” she said. “It’s nice to have an area you can walk without having to worry about traffic.”

Community members are there at least twice a day during every day of the week, according to Bartlett.

“It generally has anywhere between 40 and 50 people using it per day,” he said. “Basketball, indoor soccer, softball, baseball, birthday parties, family reunions are all different things the center has been used for in the past.”

The facility is perfect for traveling soccer coach Tim Mullen, of Marietta, he said.

Mullen, who has been coaching his two daughter’s soccer teams for around six years, discovered the recreation center about two years ago.

Both Mullen’s U9 (under 9) and U12 (under 12) girls soccer teams use the facility during the winter.

“We use the gymnasium for when we can’t get out on the field because of cold or poor weather,” said Mullen. “We even rent a classroom from time to time for meetings. It’s only $10 for an hour of gym time, which is far cheaper than any other rental area around here.”

Last summer after a severe wind storm, AEP used the facility as a command center.

The Red Cross has also looked into possibly using the facility in a similar manner if the need ever arose, according to Bartlett.

As far as what’s on the horizon for the facility, Bartlett notes there are plenty of renovations that still need to be done.

“Improving several more classrooms and painting the inside of the gym are several priorities for the recreation center in the future,” said Bartlett.

Funds for the upcoming projects will continue to be raised through the renting of the facility and various fundraisers during the year.

“We are always in a continuous state of fundraising,” said Bartlett. “We generally try to have a fundraiser every month or two during the year.”

Upcoming fundraisers for the center include Longaberger Basket Bingo in March and an indoor craft yard sale and lunch in April.

“In the beginning it was the fundraisers that gave us the majority of our money,” said Bartlett. “At this point the revenue the building makes is now matching some of the fund raising events, especially in the fall.”

All of the money raised at the events goes directly back into renovating and maintaining the recreation center.

“The community supports us. Without them none of this would have been possible,” said Bartlett.

For more information call 374-9503.