Keeping up with the needs of an increasingly diverse and rapidly growing community, the Town Council approved $3.5 million for the ongoing renovations and additions to Herndon’s 27-year-old Community Center on Ferndale Street, scheduled to be finished this fall.
Complete with a small dome above the newly-created main lobby, the center's size will grow from about 45,000 square feet to 56,138 when the final stages of the project are complete, according to the town’s Parks and Recreation Department.
“The center is well-used by the community, whether they're using it for a teen dance, for voting, for exercise,” said Abby Kimble, marketing specialist with the Herndon Parks and Recreation Department. “The expansion was seen as very important in that it will be very beneficial to lots of different people.”
THE JOURNEY FROM a small indoor basketball court with a couple of offices to a more than 56,000-square-foot facility didn’t happen overnight. Since the Community Center’s original opening in 1979, three other renovations have taken place. The current project includes the addition of several multi-purpose rooms, a multi-function swimming pool, locker rooms and a designated arts and crafts room, among other things, according to Kimble.
“I can remember when we first started, we started it with nothing,” said Inge Troller, a custodian who has worked at the Community Center since 1980. “Even when we had some of the additions it wasn’t that big … I remember our little fitness room that we had in the corner back in 1990.”
The new Community Center will feature many of the old fixtures, including the original gym, but will bring in more of the modern and convenient amenities that its users had not been able to take advantage of before, according to Kimble.
Community Center patrons are “going to have a brand new municipal facility that has been completely upgraded to use,” when the renovations are complete. “The bottom line is that there will be a lot more programs, a lot more opportunities to get involved in activities.”
UPGRADING THE ARTS and crafts room at the Center was one of the several priorities addressed in the recent renovation project.
“We have a dedicated arts and crafts room, but it was designed oh so long ago,” said Kimble. “To have a more current and utilizable [one] will mean a lot to the people who come to take part in the programs.”
Other enhancements include a new preschool and child daycare room; a teen and game room; a fitness room about triple the size of its predecessor with an increased number of new exercise machines; a new kitchen equipped to handle larger, catered events and an additional 60 parking spaces. Kimble said that patrons will be especially happy about the new parking options, as parking at the Community Center has been a challenge in the past.
The center offers classes in specific areas of interest and hobbies, including summer dance and nature discovery camps, white water rafting lessons, children's cooking classes and acoustic guitar lessons.
“We’re definitely a place where people can come and pick up new skills but also to harness old skills that they haven’t done in awhile,” said Troller.
As the Community Center is the headquarters for the Herndon Parks and Recreation Department, all activities taking place at any of the town’s 11 parks are in one way or another routed through it, making it the official home for information about any activities that go on inside Herndon — even those not sponsored by the town or the Community Center, Kimble said.
“We are your resource for recreation opportunities throughout the town, right here at the Community Center,” she added.
IT IS MORE than a place to come and participate in activities for both the newly-arrived and the longer-term residents of Herndon, according to Kimble.
“For the new families in town, they can come here and it’s an opportunity to meet other new people who have like interests,” Kimble said, “and that goes for kids and adults.”
“But also a lot of people in the community have a lot of strong memories here at this facility,” she said. “From watching their kids learn how to swim or from buying that unique gift for a relative at an arts and crafts show … people come here and feel a sense of being part of a family.”
“I remember a teen dance when my son … was 17-years-old,” said Troller. “Now he’s 39,” she added with a laugh.
WITH THE NEW ADDITIONS, Kimble and Troller both hope the Community Center will attract even more patrons from Herndon and the surrounding area.
“I’ve had a lot of people come and tell me that they had no idea that we had all of this stuff here … people from some of the farther out [away from downtown] neighborhoods,” Kimble said.
“I think it is important to everyone in the community, the ability to have this is a resource to come and be physically and creatively active is very important,” she added. “More people should come and take advantage of these opportunities.”
“We have people who come for the [use of] the facility and people who come here for the programs,” Troller said. “We’re all a family here and we’ve all been involved with all the programs so much.”
Kimble said that despite all of the construction that has been taking place over the past year, she is very excited about the completion of the additions and renovations.
“It’s like moving to a new house, you get a breath of fresh air when you move to a new place, new life,” she said. “For those people who haven’t lived here before, they have a brand new facility and even more programs to enjoy.”