(DALLAS) – Willie B Johnson Recreation Center today reopened with a fresh, modern interior and exterior. The $8.8 million expansion project – funded with monies from the 2017 bond program – added an additional 22,000 to the 38-year-old facility that serves the close-knit Hamilton Park neighborhood.
Dallas City Council Member Adam McGough today joined residents and City of Dallas officials at a ribbon-cutting where Dallas Park and Recreation
Board Director John D. Jenkins gave remarks along with Thomas Jefferson, president of the Hamilton Park Civic League. During the ceremony attended by hundreds of excited well-wishers, other speakers shared the community’s history, revealing how vital the center is to generations of Hamilton Park families.
The restoration features touch-free restrooms, a dedicated space for senior adults, expanded parking and a paved walking trail. The center’s outdoor pavilion, popular with basketball players because of its regulation court – was transformed into a 12,000 square-foot indoor gymnasium. WIFI for wireless connectivity now is available inside the facility and on the parking lot.
McGough said he believes Hamilton Park is one of the most remarkable communities in Dallas because of its history, strength and residents. “During my time as a public servant, I have learned that some celebrations are a little more significant than others. This is one of the big ones. The story of the Hamilton Park and Lake Highlands communities coming together to advocate for inclusion of this special project in the 2017 Bond Program is one to remember, and it’s an honor to celebrate finally with the community the fruits of our labor.
“This facility with first-class amenities will be a gathering place for neighbors for generations to come, and I can’t wait to experience it alongside all those who rallied to bring this important vision to life,” said McGough.
Jefferson, who grew up in Hamilton Park, said he and other residents have been looking forward to the reopening because the center is very important to families. “We depend on the recreation center much like we depend on our churches and schools. We rally around our schools, churches and this center because they are the heart of Hamilton Park. We’ve been waiting to use the center and today is more than a blessing.”
“Dallas Park and Recreation works to make sure everyone of all ages have access to quality parks, recreation facilities, and leisure programs to enrich their lives and their way of living,” said Arun Agarwal, president, Dallas Park and Recreation Board. “The sentiments of those who love this neighborhood shows how this center and its programs make communities stronger and healthier.”
Among the center’s green amenities is a new solar array that provides enough power for the building’s interior and exterior lighting. Others include water saving landscaping, energy efficient window glazing, and energy efficient heating and cooling as well as an irrigation system.
Praising Hamilton Park’s support of the city’s park system, Jenkins said, “This expansion happened because residents joined other Dallas voters to approve a $362 million-dollar bond program in 2017. Knowing that they support our park and recreation system helps our city and department keep investing in facilities to create safe, healthy and inclusive communities.”
Willie B. Johnson’s state-of-the-art technology center with high performance computer systems and 3D printing will let youth explore a wide-range of STEM programs including cybersecurity, drone piloting, and data analytics. WORKiTS (Workforce Innovative Technologies and Solutions)
will sponsor free certification and skills training programs for high school seniors, giving them experiences they need to compete for lucrative technology positions. With this certification, those seeking tech careers can have an immediate impact on their futures.
Dallas Park and Recreation Deputy Director Crystal R. Ross said she is excited about the STEM opportunities WORKiTS is offering, adding the department will expand STEM activities focusing on various sciences, engineering and mathematics. “The type of technology programs we will put in place at Willie B. Johnson certainly will set this center and Hamilton Park on a different trajectory when it comes to exposing youth to the marvels of technology.”
Learn more about Willie B. Johnson and upcoming STEM activities at https://bit.ly/3DdgfCo. The recreation center is located in north Dallas at 12225 Willowdell, Dallas 75243.