Lindsay fitness/rec. center taking shape

By Reggie Ellis

Lindsay is halfway home to completing a project that will benefit children in the entire Valley.

The McDermont Fieldhouse, a former packinghouse being converted into a sports and recreation center, will entertain children while keeping them active. Brad Albert, Lindsay's Wellness/Recreation director, said the project would not only battle the epidemic of childhood obesity, but also bring economic development and entertainment opportunities to Lindsay.

&#8220We think people will come from all over the Valley on the weekends,” Albert said, especially in the middle of summer when it is unhealthy to be active outside.

The center should be equally busy on Friday nights. The Lindsay Chamber of Commerce's Friday Night Farmers Market attracts several thousands of people each week at Sweet Brier Plaza, located across Hermosa Avenue from McDermont Fieldhouse.

&#8220This will be a great addition to Lindsay and the surrounding area because it gives kids a lot of safe and healthy options to have fun on a Friday night,” Albert said.

Demolition has already been completed and construction is well underway. The $2.2 million facility should be completed this fall or winter. Albert said the project has been split into four buildings connected as one larger facility. Building A, the large warehouse at the corner of Sweet Brier Avenue and Hermosa Street, will house four courts for basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, etc.; a small children's play area; a viewing platform looking out over the courts; concession counter; an indoor track; and possibly a climbing wall. The building will be lined with glass windows from the floor to the 24-foot ceiling. Neon palm trees will be placed along the sidewalk of Sweet Brier Avenue to match the entrance to town on Hermosa and Sweet Brier Plaza.

Building B, the old wood McDermont packinghouse, will actually be the main entrance to the entire complex. Upon entering, a registration table will be to the right and straight ahead will be flat screens showing a video of activities offered at the McDermont Fieldhouse. Around the corner will be an interactive vide arcade, featuring games such as Kick-It Pro, a soccer simulator; Downhill Biker, two virtual bikes; Air Trix, a skate board simulator; Dance-Dance Revolution, a dance machine that is a full aerobic workout that will keep you hopping; Super Shot, a basketball toss game; Rolling extreme, a street luge simulator; Alpine Surfer, a surfing simulator; Air Hockey; Rush 2049, a two-person driving simulator and MOCAP Boxing, virtual boxing. The price tag on all of that equipment is $48,200. There will also be room for a dance floor and disco and rooms for birthday parties. An old sorting table is being converted into a tournament center for X-Box video games.

In the basement will be a 13,000 square foot laser tag arena. Albert said the arena would have some movable walls that can create different courses or even split the arena into several different games going on simultaneously. The arena will feature fog machines, music and possibly strobe lights.

Building C, a former loading dock to the north, will house the fitness center; gymnastics; the Lindsay Boxing Club; additional restrooms. An indoor track will connect all three buildings by creating a continuous loop around the perimeter. While there are no formal plans for the fourth portion of the building, a skate park committee has been formed to eventually build an outdoor course with ramps, rails and jumps adjacent to the Building C.

Lindsay purchased the former packinghouse last fall following a summer trip to New York for a workshop on creating more inviting and welcoming public spaces.

The project was inspired by a visit to Chelsea Piers, remarkable sports complex built on decaying pier formerly used for ocean liners. Lindsay is hoping the facility will help the city prevent childhood obesity. According to Albert, 44.3% of Lindsay's youth are considered overweight or obese.

- C.J. Barbre contributed to this report.

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