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New rec center opens
Old Atlanta first of two facilities
Center WEB 1
Jim Brennan, manager of the recreation division, gives a tour Wednesday of the Old Atlanta Park Recreation Center after an official ribbon cutting. The center is the first of two Forsyth County is opening this month. - photo by Autumn Vetter

Sounds of heels and dress shoes echoed within the gym walls Wednesday as community leaders and residents got a first look at the Old Atlanta Park Recreation Center.

A few folks had come by to use the walking trail or weight room that morning, staff members said, but the center was officially welcomed in the afternoon with a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

Judging by the crowd, Commissioner Brian Tam said there’s plenty of excitement for the center, which is on a future county park site across from Lambert High School.

“I am so proud to have this beautiful facility in south Forsyth,” Tam said. “I am proud to say that the county was able to build this recreation center for all of the residents of Forsyth County to enjoy.”

Up until now, the county has had just one recreation center, located at Central Park off of Keith Bridge Road in north Forsyth.

On Monday, the county will add its third during a 2 p.m. ribbon cutting for the center at Fowler Park.

Tam, whose district includes the Old Atlanta center, said residents in that corner of south Forsyth have eagerly awaited having a facility closer to home.

The 40,000-square-foot center is at the future Old Atlanta Park on the corner of Nichols and Old Atlanta roads.

The facility includes two gymnasiums for basketball and other sports, an indoor walking track, fitness studio and a cardio and weight room,

It also features a multipurpose room, dance classroom and community room with a kitchen.

Those wishing to use the cardio and weight room can do so with a membership, which secures access the gyms at all three centers, said Jim Brennan, manager of the recreation division.

During a tour of the building, he pointed out features of the rooms where classes in dance fitness, art and other activities will be held.

Classes will begin at the center in mid-March, as will a new flex option for residents to gain access to multiple fitness programs for a flat rate.

The building itself contains several sustainable features, which Commission Chairman Jim Boff said are aimed at “keeping operating costs low.”

The energy- and water-saving measures include large windows for natural light, energy control systems and underground water storage tanks to capture rainwater for irrigation, Boff said.

“It should only take one look or one visit to see that the vision which took many years to project and become reality, has been fully realized in this beautiful building,” he said.

Boff thanked the county’s voters for approving the parks, recreation and green space bond and the development community for paying impact fees.

Both funding mechanisms contributed to the construction of the center.

The 39-acre site on which the center is built also was purchased through the green space bond, which passed in 2008. Old Atlanta Park is expected to open there this summer.

The park will feature a natural playground, a tot-lot, multiuse trail for pedestrians and cross-country runners and a “splash pad” with a covered pavilion.