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New Roanoke County Rec Center doing better than projected

March 04, 2010
  • The Green Ridge Recreation Center officially opened its doors on January first, and already has more than 5,600 members. That's double what was projected.
The Green Ridge Recreation Center officially opened its doors on January first, and already has more than 5,600 members. That's double what was projected.

This harsh winter may be one reason why Roanoke County's new $30 million Rec Center is doing better than anyone expected.

The Green Ridge Recreation Center officially opened its doors on January first.

It's located in the northern part of the county near the intersection of Interstates 581 and 81.

Certainly playing a part in the rec center's popularity is the "new" factor, but county leaders say they are more than happy considering we're in the middle of a recession.

It's a familiar sound here at the Green Ridge Rec Center, people checking in.

It's especially busy on nights and weekends.

"It seems certain times of day it's really crowded," says member Jan Vanostrand.

"My grandson wants to come out here everyday," says member Dot Crush.

"Five days a week, Monday through Friday," says member Houston Otey.

County leaders expected an initial bounce when the facility first opened.

They never expected to have more than 5,600 members already, more than double than what was projected.

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The estimates were conservative because they feared the recession would keep them off track.

"I think it's a big shock right now that we're seeing a huge response to the facility like we are today and based on the current economy and current situation," says Assistant Director of Parks and Rec Marcus Ordonez.

The place is so busy many have to wait to use the exercise equipment.

The birthday room is pretty much booked solid until June.

They're also having to create more children's programs because the daycare center is often full.

Another component to this is the outdoor aquatics center which is set to open Memorial Day weekend. Memberships for it are already sold out and county leaders are afraid they'll quickly run out of room for the daily use.

They're sweating it especially when it comes to parking.

"We've already been planning and setting up plans for parking as far as staff shuttles," says Ordonez.

Once Splash Valley opens, more than 2,000 people are expected to visit the rec center everyday.

That may seem like an impressive number, but county leaders acknowledge there are no guarantees they'll be able to sustain those numbers long term.

They remain hopeful the rush will continue and provide the one two punch they believe is needed to silence critics who feel this facility was waste of taxpayer money.

"If I was a realtor, this would be one of the top three things, including schools, that I would list is the Green Ridge Rec Center," says member Karen Croy.

One area that's not doing well are the plans to build a business park around the rec center.

The recession has pretty much delayed those plans.

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