Photo by Marty Gordon
Blythe Akers, who participates in various youth activities at the Christiansburg Recreation Center, was one of the many people who won at bingo during Tuesday’s 20th anniversary celebration.

Usage of the Christiansburg Recreation Center reached an all-time high this past fiscal year with 108,659 entries, compared to 101,401 the year before.

The facility officially turned 20-years-old this past week with a birthday celebration that included class demonstrations, door prizes, contests and, of course, cake.

Mayor Michael Barber said that the facility and the parks and recreation department are about increasing the quality of life for town residents.

“It’s a superb facility that residents can use for free, which is a wonderful offering for our community and ensures that everyone has a chance to improve their health and well-being,” he said.

After sitting empty for almost two years, the town purchased the Franklin Street building in late 1995. It had originally been home to the town’s first Lowe’s store, but relocated near the new US460 bypass on Peppers Ferry Road..

The center held its grand opening on Nov. 9, 1997, costing $5.5 million to complete. The facility boasts a three-lane running and walking track, four basketball courts, a weight room, a cardio room, two racquetball courts and several meeting rooms.

Most area residents know it as the place to play basketball, but the department’s Director Brad Epperley said the facility is more than just a gym.

“It has been a community hub for the past 20 years and a social outlet for many of our residents. It’s hard to even imagine Christiansburg without the rec center. With more than 210,000 membership scans in the last two years, it’s clear how important the rec center is to its community,” he said.

While town residents can use the facility for free, they do have to sign up for a membership. In addition, non-residents can also use the facility for a very reasonable price which typically runs $5 a day or $15-$30 a month depending on your age.

The center has provided more than 600 programs in the past year, reaching thousands of community members.

“We are so proud to serve this town and look forward to maintaining and building a robust selection of offerings at the rec center so that everyone can find something they enjoy,” Epperley said.

Mayor Barber echoed those sentiments.

Christiansburg opened the recreation center at its present location in 1995 after Lowe’s moved to a larger super store on Peppers Ferry Road.

“The rec center also holds specific events, athletic competitions, fitness classes and activities that are catered to our seniors, special populations, adults, teens and children, so there really is something for everyone. For 20 years, [it] has been a gathering place for our citizens and the importance of that cannot be quantified,” he said.

The next big thing for the facility and recreation department is the addition of a multi-million dollar town park planned for a parcel of land behind Home Depot and Walmart.

“We have long-term plans to develop those 60 acres into green space, rectangular sports fields, a dog park, an all-accessible playground and more. With the Regional Park and the continuous expansion of the Huckleberry Trail toward downtown, our residents will have more recreation options than ever before, and the Rec Center will remain the hub of the activity,” Barber said.

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