Construction to begin soon on local recreation center

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Reporter - Kendall Downing

MARION, Ill. - People living in one local community will soon have a new place to get in shape.

Tuesday, Marion, Illinois city leaders broke ground on a new $10 million recreation center. The facility is located on the site of the old Marion Memorial Hospital on West Main Street.

The project's been two years in the making.

Karen Barger and her grandkids enjoy a sunny morning at the park in Marion. Barger said there's not enough for kids to do in the area.

"I believe we need it here," she said.

She hopes the new recreation center will change that.

"It's time that our tax dollars be spent wisely and on something for everybody to enjoy and take part in," she said.

The $10 million complex will go at the site of the old hospital. Crews demolished it back in 2009.

Sketches for the center named "The Hub" call for swimming pools, gyms, and fitness areas, open to all ages.

"This is prime real estate in the downtown area of the city," said Bob Butler, Marion Mayor.

Butler said a $2.5 million grant from the state of Illinois two years ago got the ball rolling.

"This money's got to go somewhere. So rather than Chicago, why not it come here," said Rep. John Bradley of Marion.

The city plans to cover the rest of the construction costs by issuing bonds. Mayor Butler calls the project a success for the community, making use of an empty lot by building a complex everyone will enjoy.

"It's something that's been long-needed," he said.

Construction will start in August. The center is slated to open sometime in 2014.

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