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Winter Haven Recreational & Cultural Center Could Receive $5 Million for Reconstruction

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Winter Haven Recreational & Cultural Center Could Receive $5 Million for Reconstruction

by James Coulter

More than $5,000,000 from the city’s general fund surplus might be used to help completely reconstruct the Winter Haven Recreational and Cultural Center (WHRCC), if Winter Haven City Commissioners approve the proposed funding transfer at their next meeting on April 25.

At their recent meeting on Monday, commissioners reviewed the first reading of an ordinance that would appropriate $5,151,147 from the city’s general fund surplus toward the WHRCC construction fund for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2023.

The City’s fiscal policy requires the general fund “should not be less than 17 percent” of its operating expenditures. Last year’s budget experienced a surplus of $5,151,147, which increased the available fund balance to $22,581,371, or 38 percent of its budgeted expenditures.

“The General Fund’s FY 2022-2023 surplus may be utilized to accommodate the construction cost increase without a negative impact to fund balance,” the ordinance stated.

Located at 801 Ave T NE next to Jewett School of the Arts, the WHRCC building has remained standing since its construction in 1974. The 20,000-square-foot facility currently consists of a playground, a 25-meter pool, a 7,160-square-foot indoor gymnasium with a fitness center, and two lighted youth baseball/softball fields.

The facility was originally recommended to receive renovations to improve its fitness center and address its ADA needs. However, last year, according to the ordinance memo: “during the initial design and master plan efforts, the breadth of the project warranted consideration of a complete rebuild versus a traditional renovation.”

The proposed new facility, as the staff memo explains, “would feature a 17,000 square-foot double multi-use gymnasium, a new zero-grade entry swimming pool, a splash pad, new playground, outdoor sports court, and all the amenities of an upgraded fitness center, community meeting space, library/technology area with WiFi, business support area, kitchen (caterer), offices, restrooms, and additional storage.”

City Commissioners will review and vote on the ordinance during its second reading at their April 25 meeting, to be hosted at City Hall at 6 p.m.

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