FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Wednesday saw the official start of construction on an expansion of Florence's existing Barnes Street Recreation Center.
This development has been discussed by Florence city officials for almost 30 years. The current Barnes Street Recreation Center only has one basketball court for all of the city to use.
At Wednesday's groundbreaking ceremony, Florence City Manager Drew Griffin said the city is fulfilling a dream that has been a long time coming. The 35,000 square-foot upgraded facility will feature three full-sized basketball courts, concessions, office space, a lobby and program rooms, he added.
"City officials, parks and recreation directors and people from the community have all helped make this dream a reality," Griffin said.
The new rec center will also benefit youth basketball leagues, which currently have to play in Florence school gyms.
Florence Recreation Director Darlene Buchanan said they hope the expansion will bring more interest in recreation.
"We know our numbers will increase in our leagues, and we think that just the general interest in the building itself will increase the traffic that comes through," she said. "It means everything to the city of Florence. It means everything to our youth league, to our adult league (and) to our partners in the community that host special events and tournaments. The possibilities are endless with a facility like this."
With more opportunities at the gym comes more people throughout the city.
"Those tournaments put heads in our beds," Buchanan said. "You'll see folks out eating at our restaurants and you'll see people shopping in our local shopping establishments. So, it's definitely a win-win for our community."
Florence city officials expect the gym to be up and running by spring 2017.