Monday, November 20, 2017
News Roundup

Largo's new Highland Recreation Complex opens with goal to keep kids active

RECOMMENDED READING


LARGO

Inside the new Highland Recreation Complex, the laughter of children can be heard coming from high above.

There's a three-story-high honeycomb of play spaces, all foam padding and primary colors. The highlight is a sliding tube that corkscrews all the way down from the top.

Up a staircase, there's an electronic exercise room loaded with high-tech dance floors and other flashy gadgets. Around the corner, a state-of-the-art fitness center looks like something out of a sci-fi movie.

Just in time for summer vacation, the new Highland rec center opens this week. The public is invited to tour the place from noon to 5 p.m. today. It opens for business Monday, with classes and programs kicking off June 10.

Make no mistake, the $17.3 million complex is intended to be another crown jewel in Largo's parks system.

"There isn't anything else like this in the state of Florida. This is going to set the standard," said Joan Byrne, the city's recreation, parks and arts director.

The complex is at 400 Highland Ave., just north of East Bay Drive in the middle of the city. It's on the west side of the Highland Family Aquatic Center, which has been refurbished to mesh with the new complex's design. The pool now has family changing rooms and more shade structures around it.

The new recreation center replaces a 40-year-old metal building on a concrete slab behind the aquatic center. The old rec center is being torn down to make way for a parking lot and a multipurpose athletic field.

Although the new complex has a lot of features, probably the most attention-getting aspect will be the electronic exercise room. The roughly 850-square-foot room cost nearly $90,000 to outfit and is dedicated to "active gaming" — video games that require exercise.

"The object is to get the kids so into the game that they forget they're actually getting some exercise," Byrne said. "Working out doesn't have to be a drudge."

The staffed "exerplay" room will have a capacity of 25 people. It will be open from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday, noon to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, and 12:30 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

It will cost $5 per day to use the room with a Largo recreation membership card, or $6 without a card. A card costs $10 per year for city residents or $59 for nonresidents.

Among the gadgets in the room:

• A Lightspace Floor and Lightspace Wall, tiled contraptions programmed with games where players step on or touch different lighted tiles in patterns.

• Xbox 360 with Kinect, a video game system with sensors that make "you the controller," as the advertisements say. Participants stand in front of a 60-inch TV and move around to play sports games or dance.

• Konami Classroom Edition set of 24 mats. The mats are like individual Lightspace Floors and are used to play the popular "Dance Dance Revolution" video game, among others.

Meanwhile, the complex's three-story-high padded play area, which is called "playworld," can accommodate up to 126 kids. "It ends up looking like an ant colony," Byrne said. Playing on the apparatus costs $3 with a Largo rec card or $4 without a card.

The rec center also has tennis courts, classrooms, an indoor track, two gymnasiums and a room stocked with old-school games like air hockey, foosball and Skee-Ball.

The complex's $17.3 million cost is being paid for through the Penny for Pinellas sales tax. That includes about $14.35 million for construction, $1.9 million on the architecture and design, and $850,000 on new furnishings, landscaping and relocation of the skate park, which will be reassembled at the Bayhead Complex on Seminole Boulevard.

The 40,000-square-foot building is wrapped in Oko Skin, a fiber-reinforced concrete-panel material that looks like wood from a distance.

"This is the only place it's being used in the entire state of Florida," said Lisa Mudano, project coordinator for Creative Contractors, which built the complex.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4151.

     
 
Comments

St. Petersburg council passes living wage ordinance

ST. PETERSBURG — An ordinance requiring certain city contractors to pay workers a minimum of $12 an hour was approved by City Council members Thursday with some amendments. The living wage ordinance applies to businesses with major city contracts pro...
Updated: 1 hour ago
NTSB report details steep turns and dives preceding Roy Halladay’s fatal crash

NTSB report details steep turns and dives preceding Roy Halladay’s fatal crash

Before he crashed, Roy Halladay flew within 75 feet of houses and skimmed the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a report published Monday by the National Transportation Safety Board.The report, which did not address the cause of the crash, ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ruth: Would high-speed rail have reduced traffic deaths on I-4?

Ruth: Would high-speed rail have reduced traffic deaths on I-4?

Ah, just in time for the Thanksgiving travel season, Florida has once again achieved national prominence. We’re No. 1 — with a body bag! Can’t you feel the pride swelling?A recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

In a state with the nation’s highest portion of residents over 65 years old and more than 80,000 nursing home beds, public records about those facilities should be as accessible as possible. Yet once again, Florida is turning back the clock to the da...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Blasts at plant kill 1, injure dozens

Blasts at plant kill 1, injure dozens

NEW WINDSOR, N.Y. — Authorities recovered the body of a male worker reported missing after two explosions and a fire at a New York cosmetics factory left 30 to 35 people injured, including seven firefighters caught in the second blast, officials said...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sex assault reports declining at MacDill despite increase militarywide

Sex assault reports declining at MacDill despite increase militarywide

TAMPA — The number of sexual assaults reported to officials at MacDill Air Force Base has decreased dramatically during the past three years even as reports across the military have increased slightly, new Pentagon statistics show.Officials at MacDil...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Florida A&M football coach Alex Wood resigns

TALLAHASSEE — Alex Wood resigned as Florida A&M football coach Monday, two days after the Rattlers completed their season. Athletic director Milton Overton Jr. said offensive line coach Edwin Pata, a former FSU tight end, will serve as interim coach....
Updated: 1 hour ago

PORT RICHEYWoman accused of beating boy, 4, with hangerA Port Richey woman was arrested on a charge of felony child abuse after a 4-year-old boy in her care told deputies she hit him with a clothes hanger, leaving bruises, the Pasco County Sheriff’s ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
‘I tried,’ mother of killer Adam Matos says at sentencing

‘I tried,’ mother of killer Adam Matos says at sentencing

NEW PORT RICHEY — His family described him as a loving, kindhearted father. His neighbors regarded him as quiet and respectful. His friends recalled him as "happy-go-lucky," a "laid-back, fun guy."Thirteen witnesses told of a softer side of Adam Mato...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays agonize over which prospects to protect on 40-man roster

Rays agonize over which prospects to protect on 40-man roster

ST. PETERSBURG — That the Rays went right up to Monday’s 8 p.m. deadline in deciding to add seven players to the 40-man roster, and that a couple they left off seem to be potential Rule 5 draft losses, was apparently a good thing."There’s always some...
Updated: 2 hours ago