It’s been nearly a decade since I last stepped foot on the fields of the Minden Recreation Center as a dad with kids playing ball.
I remember when the complex first opened. I remember the fields not being quite ready. I remember the heat in the bleachers because the areas were not yet covered.
Most of all, I remember the pride I had for my community, and this wonderful complex with so much potential.
Over the course of that first year since opening, I shot basketball in the gym, played racquetball and tennis on the newly built courts, and went to more games than I could count.
On Wednesday morning, I watched a video posted to Facebook by the Minden Recreation Center. My jaw dropped as I witnessed the condition of the once-pristine facilities.
The video showed broken windows, faded signs, rusted hardware, inoperable equipment, and so much more. The level of disrepair was hard to stomach.
My first response was to ask the the obvious questions. How did things get so bad? Why didn’t we take better care of things? Whose fault is it?
While the answers to those questions may seem like to priority many, it doesn’t change the present. The question that must be answered now is, “What are we going to do about it?”
Rocke Musgraves, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Minden, is interviewed in the video. He gives a priority list of needs at the Recreation Center, along with estimated costs of repairs. He is quick to note that staff has done the very best it could with the resources available.
Musgraves, and the rest of the City are not just wringing their hands and hoping for miracles. A nonprofit “booster club” has been formed, organized by District E Councilman Pam Bloxom. The purpose of the booster club is to raise funds to improve the center. The group believes it will be eligible to apply for grants for the facility that the City cannot. Their next meeting is 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18.
It is no secret the City is watching every penny it spends carefully. There are more needs to be addressed than resources available. Just ask the residents of Horton Street, Longleaf or Country Club Circle if they think the Recreation Center is the city’s highest priority.
That being said, repairing and improving the Minden Recreation Center is also an economic development and tourism project. I’ve used this space multiple times to advocate for sports tourism and the benefits to Minden.
Musgraves and others know this to be true as well. That’s why they are being aggressive in showing the current conditions, along with ideas for the future.
I am sure the City will be looking for some strategic partnerships to make some of the upgrades sooner rather than later, and I’m sure they would love help and input from the community on this front.
I encourage everyone who calls Minden home to view the video (https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=322736982001386).
Once you see the need, I encourage you to take action. We have some of the most generous people in the world living here in Webster Parish. Some have already stepped up, providing in-kind services, equipment and other things to improve to center. Surely, we all can pitch in and get the Recreation Center back in shape and poised for the future.
As someone whose boys spent a lot of time on the fields and courts of the Recreation Center, I want it to still be around, and be better, for my grandchildren. That should be what we all want.
David Specht is president of Specht Newspapers, Inc.