By Cameron Macdonald
Citizen News Editor
Morse Community Park’s recreation center has been planned for 21 years, and the 34,500-square foot facility could finally open its doors in early 2024.
Ideas for the $30 million recreation center’s design were presented at a community workshop held at a classroom in Franklin High School on Nov. 4. The school’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics Academy hosted the event.
More than a dozen attendees, including Franklin High students, viewed illustrations of the two-story center at a classroom that night.
The recreation center’s features include an indoor, suspended track for running or walking, indoor basketball courts, fitness rooms, locker rooms, and an outdoor activity area on the top floor that overlooks the park. Users of the suspended track will be able to see the basketball courts below them.
Plans are to have visitors walk into the building and see a large room full of people engaged in different recreational activities. Designers want to create an energetic atmosphere there.
“There should be an energy when you walk in,” said Craig Bouck, a principal designer from the Barker, Rinker, Seacat Architecture firm. “This is meant to get your blood pressure moving a little bit.
The Cosumnes Community Services District (CSD) staff is drafting the design plan for the facility that will be built on a vacant lot near the corner of Bellaterra and Fire Poppy drives in the highly populated East Franklin area. This recreation center is primarily designed to serve an estimated 100,000 residents who live within three miles of the project site.
“This is going to make a big difference to people living in this area,” said Paul Mewton, the CSD’s chief of planning, design, and construction. “It will provide a great recreational alternative.”
The CSD staff shelved the recreation center project during the late 2000s recession and its site sat vacant near Morse Community Park’s picnic area since then. Mewton at the Nov. 4 workshop noted that his district collected capital funds and Landscape and Lighting assessment fees paid by local property owners over the past 20 years for the project.
CSD parks staff members returned to the recreation center project a few years ago and started gathering feedback from local residents on what they wanted to see at the future facility.
Last November, CSD Project Manager Fred Bremerman told the CSD board that highly requested amenities included a multipurpose gymnasium, a fitness center, and batting cages.
The CSD board then approved the Morse Recreation Center’s business and operations plan, and the project is now undergoing an environmental impact review that’s expected to finish in June.
A community design workshop was held this September and the Nov. 4 meeting at Franklin High was the final design workshop for the project.
Scott Jones, the CSD’s engineering, development, and design director, said that the schematic designs are slated to be finalized next September.
“Every single detail of the project building has to be figured out, engineered, architect-reviewed,” he said in explaining the long design process.
At the Nov. 4 workshop, the CSD staff and the project’s designers said that the recreation center’s main entrance will face the park and a nearby parking lot. The back of the gymnasium, including the windows along the top-floor running track, will face the houses across the street. Plans are to have the building stand at least 100 feet away from the closest homes.
Morse Community Park currently has two major parking lots and a total of more than 180 spaces. Mewton noted that the CSD staff is working with the Elk Grove Unified School District to offer overflow parking at nearby Castello Elementary School.
As for facility use, the CSD staff plans to charge monthly or annual membership fees to users. Mike Dopson, the CSD’s parks and recreation director, said they are considering a $35 monthly fee and a possible package that includes membership at the Elk Grove Aquatics Center.
After the workshop, Franklin High student Tommie Nguyen said that he thought about the recreation’s security.
“I was thinking more on the security side of things and how the workers and the children would be protected inside the building,” he said.
Earlier that night, the CSD staff said there are plans to install security cameras and to have district park rangers visit the site.
Nguyen’s classmate Caleb Kuo mentioned that they will be in college by the time the recreation center opens in 2024. He told Kuo they could still work there during the summers.
For more information on the Morse Recreation Center project, visit www.YourCSD.com/MorseRecCenter.