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New Year's resolution: Build, replace rec centers

This year one Carrollwood community will prepare to build its first recreation center while another could be forced to upgrade or replace one it has used for 25 years.

County Commissioners last year agreed to spend $3-million to build a community recreation center in Carrollwood Village after residents there lobbied forcefully for the funds.

Although the money won't be available until 2002, it might take that long for homeowners to find the best location for the facility.

"It needs to go in Carrollwood Village," said John Miley, who helped organize the campaign. "When you look at how many places in Carrollwood Village might be considered viable, there aren't that many."

Some residents had considered converting St. Mark's Episcopal Church into a community center, but that plan may not work because St. Mark's would have problems relocating in the Carrollwood Village area.

While the community works to find a suitable location, Original Carrollwood will decide what to do with a recreation center that has served it for a quarter century.

Time has taken its toll on the building at Orange Grove and McFarland roads. Some of its equipment is outdated, the exterior wood is rotting and peeling wallpaper has made it harder to make the meeting room presentable for social functions, homeowners have said in recent months.

Unless the building is renovated, it could lose its appeal to many people who rent it, especially as competition will come from new tax-supported buildings in Carrollwood Village and Northdale.

Original Carrollwood residents have not sought tax funding, as accepting help from the county could require them to open the community center up to outsiders.

They have considered building their own facility on land the community purchased from Florida Cities Water Co., which used to operate a waste treatment plant across the street from the existing recreation building. But that site has proven expensive to develop because it sits on underground muck that runs several feet deep.