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County to overhaul historic Gardenville School, expand park

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image Photo Penny Fletcher

The county’s Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department has big plans for changes at the Gardenville Recreation Center in Gibsonton.


Two separate but overlapping projects are slated for the Gardenville Recreation Center, 6219 Symmes Road in Gibsonton. When they’re completed, the center will have a whole new look.

In the front of the property, the elementary school built in 1926 stands with boarded-up windows. Over the years, it has been used for various purposes and the original interior walls have been removed.

“We’re going to put interior walls back in,” said Dan Myers, the senior architect for Hillsborough County who is project manager for the site. “The building was passed from the school district to the parks department in 1961 and was used as a recreation center   through the early 1980s.”

The parks department plans to have a large room in the center, a warming center for serving food, an activity room, and at the east end, a large storage room.

“You can never have enough storage room at a recreation center,” Myers said.

The windows, which are now closed in with white boards, will be restored to look like the original windows of the 87-year-old building, only they will be made “storm safe” using aluminum instead of wood.

“We are doing an interpretation of the original design everywhere we can, only making it safe according to new codes,” Myers said.

The county plans to put a new steel structure inside the brick walls of the old building and change the roof from wood to steel to further increase safety.

Target dates for starting work on the building depend on permitting, but Myers said they estimate beginning at the end of this year and expect to be finished in the late summer of 2014.

The budget for the renovation of the old school is slightly higher than $800,000, he said.

Besides this, a little more than $2 mil will be used to build a new 9,000-to-10,000 square foot structure on the southeast side of the existing facility where there is now a large field.

Myers referred to this as the second phase of the Gardenville project.

“We think we’ll start this in 2014, maybe even before the school is finished,” he said. “This building will have a new gymnasium and be used for seniors programs.”

This project will be much like the new one planned for the Ruskin Recreation Center which already has programs for senior citizens and is also under expansion.

The money to build the new facilities and several others around the county has been gained from the consolidation of the county’s 43 smaller recreation centers into 12 expanded neighborhood centers that began about four years ago.

The $2.2 mil expansion of the Ruskin Recreation Center was covered in The Observer News and The Current in the April 11 editions and can still be viewed on line at www.observernews.net.

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