By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
City Councilor Matt Hunton is looking to give the Portales Recreation Center a major facelift by expanding it and adding a variety of features.
Hunton shared his ideas with his fellow councilors at their Tuesday meeting, asking them to explore the different options he provided.
“If this is done properly, we’d improve the quality of life and grow the city’s revenue,” Hunton said.
The ideas Hunton presented expanded the center to offer services to people of all ages. The ideal area to move the center would be on Industrial Drive near the Softball Complex.
He began with pitching an indoor pool, which he mentioned would solve the city’s problem with its current pool that needs to be replaced.
Hunton said an indoor pool could be used year-round and it could also create job opportunities for pool staff. He said an outside splash pad could also be connected to the pool, which would give children opportunity to play outside in the summer.
To attract revenue, Hunton said connection party rooms to the sides of the pool would allow people to have private parties at the pool.
“It would give people the opportunity to swim and then go off into their own room,” Hunton said.
Another feature that was well-received by the councilors was Hunton’s suggestion of multi-purpose courts. This would also solve the problem of the shortage of practice space for the city’s basketball league, which currently uses the Portales Schools gymnasiums.
“This is one of the biggest reasons we need a new recreation center,” Hunton said.
He said the courts could also create space for an adult basketball league, which would also generate revenue and provide activity for adults.
Recreation Center Director Jodi Kibbe joined Hunton in presenting a few of the ideas, particularly a new soccer field.
Kibbe said the center’s soccer league has been invited by other communities to participate in tournaments and a new soccer field would allow them to host one.
Other ideas included a fitness center, skating rink, walking track, racquetball courts, a bowling alley, a snack bar, a miniature golf and laser tag area, an indoor kids play area, a community computer lab, a teen center, a community theater and a dog park.
“The reason we need this is because we lack any destination for the community,” Hunton said. “It will slow the leak (of gross receipts taxes) to other communities and just give people another reason to choose Portales.”
Hunton said he was asking the council to allow City Manager Doug Redmond to determine the cost of the center before taking action.
“Once we scale it down, the biggest thing is to determine what will work in there,” Redmond said.
Riki Seat, advisor of the Roosevelt County Youth Coalition, said the group of youth she works with is ripe with ideas for community entertainment and asked Hunton to take their ideas into consideration.
“They want to do these things,” Seat said. “Get with our kids, they’ll best determine their priorities. They want something to do, they want to be heard.”