TAMPA PALMS — The clamor for a recreation center in New Tampa wasn't just lip service by local residents.
Every program offered in the nine months since the center opened at the New Tampa Community Park filled immediately. There's the same level of anticipation among skateboarders when the adjacent 15,000-square-foot skate park opens in mid to late April.
The skate park was scheduled to open late this month or in early March. The opening was delayed because the builder, Team Pain, had several other projects to complete, said Heather Wolf-Erickson, an area operations manager for the Tampa parks department.
The concrete for the skating bowl will soon be poured.
"Team Pain did a wonderful job with the design," Wolf-Erickson said. "They're very passionate and we're pleased with their work."
The $695,000 skate park will accommodate all levels of skaters and feature a pyramid, stairs, curbs, handrails, a multilevel bowl and a series of quarter pipes.
While the skate park's debut is eagerly awaited, gymnastics and dance programs keep people flocking to the center on Commerce Park Boulevard. Close to 1,000 families have registered and there are 1,200 to 1,400 participants weekly.
Hunter's Green resident Jim Lance couldn't wait to register his 7-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son for dancing and gymnastics classes. His 19-month-old son will soon be toddling through classes as well. "We rushed over here when they opened so we didn't get on a waiting list," Lance said. "They are really good to the kids. They look forward to coming here. We'll keep them here until they age out."
Lance and other parents said reasonable prices for the programs are appreciated during tough economic times. A seven-week session for one class a week costs about $30.
Carrollwood resident Laura Quade said she brings her daughters, 4 and 8, to the New Tampa rec center because it offers more amenities.
"It's much cleaner, and it has a big playground so my youngest daughter (20 months) can run around," she said.
Wolf-Erickson called the rec center the best facility in the state, if not the southeastern United States
"A trainer would walk in there and see the training aids and say, 'I'm home,' " Wolf-Erickson said.
Gymnastics is the anchor activity, but there are also sports readiness classes for kids as young as age 5. Those classes develop upper body strength and flexibility for athletes.
Many genres of dance, from ballet to hip-hop, are offered, and a birthday party program was recently added.
Adult programs, including yoga and fitness classes, will soon be offered. Senior activities such as line dancing and cards are in the works.
"We could use about four more multipurpose spaces," Wolf-Erickson said of the 20,000-square-foot facility that includes a multilevel gymnastics area, a multipurpose room, snack bar and lounge area.
With last year's summer programs filling up a month after the center opened in May, Wolf-Erickson said more camps and staff personnel will be added this summer to accommodate more students.
Registration for summer camps begins in mid February. For more information, visit www.tampagov.net/dept_gym_and_dance or call the rec center at (813) 975-2794.