By Amanda Rogers
The city of Mansfield wants to know what you want in a new recreation center and library.
“We want to know what people would like to see and what the priorities are,” said Ann Beck, marketing and communications manager for the city’s parks and recreation department.
The parks and recreation department will host a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 8, in the community room at Vernon Newsom Stadium, 3700 E. Broad St., to answer questions and get feedback.
The meeting will be recorded and available on the parks department’s website, mansfieldparks.com, as will a survey for everyone to voice their opinions.
“We would like to know what kind of features people would like in a recreation center/library,” Beck said. “For sure, fitness and aquatics, but do they want racquetball, exercise equipment, a track, gyms? And for aquatics, do they want lap lanes, a pool, slides, a lazy river or a spa?”
Possibilities for the library could be meeting rooms, co-working spaces, craft spaces, cooking classes and a full kitchen.
The tentative site for the new facility is a 12-acre plot behind the Star Center in The Shops at Broad at the corner of East Broad Street and US 287, Beck said. The site is on the Walnut Creek Linear Trail, which would give people the opportunity to walk or bike to the new facility.
The buildings would likely be part of a bond package, which the city council could call as soon as November, but more likely it would be on the ballot for May 2022, Beck said. If the bond passed, construction could begin in the fall of 2022 with completion in three to four years.
The current Mansfield Activity Center and Mansfield Public Library were part of the $26 million bond package that passed in 1996. Both buildings opened in 2001. The MAC, which cost $2.1 million, includes a gymnasium and three meeting rooms, one that can be divided to make a fourth. The library, which cost $1.8 million, has meeting rooms, offices and the main room.
If a new recreation center/library is built, the current buildings would be converted to a senior center, Beck said.
“The library is about to get some renovations,” Beck said. “They are adding a couple of offices and meeting rooms that have been planned for a long time.”
It’s time for a new MAC and library, said Matt Young, the city’s director of community services.
"Industry standards say that for our population size, we should have 76,000 square feet of recreation center space and 40,000 square feet of library,” he said. “We are far behind those minimums, with 23,000 and 13,000 respectively. Both of those facilities were designed with future phases to be added later, it just hasn't happened yet and we hear from residents over and over that they are ready for more. Mansfield grew quickly, and it's time our parks and facilities caught up."
Putting a library and recreation center together is kind of unusual, but Young thinks that it will work.
"Libraries and recreation centers both exist to serve the community, providing places to play and learn, gather safely together and improve their lives, whether through fitness, education or enrichment,” he said. “Combining the facilities makes a lot of sense from the user's perspective, we can give them one single space to do many things, and really be a true center for the community. It's also a really responsible financial decision, as we can share so many of the costs associated with both the construction and the operations, rather than building two different facilities. It's a win-win for Mansfield and we're excited to go forward with the project."
Mansfield, Texas, is a booming city, nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with a personality all its own. The city’s 76,247 citizens enjoy an award-winning school district, vibrant economy, historic downtown, prize-winning park system and community focus spread across 37 square miles. The Mansfield Record is dedicated to reporting city and school news, community happenings, police and fire news, business, food and restaurants, parks and recreation, library, historical archives and special events. The city’s only online newspaper launched in September 2020 and will offer introductory advertising rates for the first three months at three different rates.