Sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with being proud of what you have. Officials with Huntsville Parks & Recreation are proud of their facilities, and recently showed off a couple to out-of-town guests.
The visitors were in Huntsville for the Alabama Recreation & Parks Association’s (ARPA) annual conference. The last time the Rocket City hosted the event was about a decade ago, and the City – as well as its parks and rec offerings – have grown steadily since.
Changes to the parks and rec landscape include improvements to John Hunt Park (JHP) and construction of the Huntsville Aquatics Center (HAC). Both facilities regularly host local, regional and national competitions – beach volleyball and cross-country at JHP and swim meets at HAC.
Community Events Superintendent David Delisser, who also served as tour guide, said the two facilities were examples of Huntsville’s growth and community offerings. JHP is still evolving as renovations continue at Joe Davis Stadium.
“They serve multiple functions,” Delisser said of the facilities. “They improve quality of life by providing recreational opportunities for our local residents, but they also have some local economic impact as they attract the largest number of out-of-town visitors.”
Nothing but nets
During a stop at the Sand Volleyball Complex at John Hunt Park, Community Event Supervisor Eric Enchelmayer gave guests a tour of the facility, which now boasts 15 courts, a covered viewing area, Wi-Fi, sound system and LED-lighted courts. There’s also room to add more courts down the road.
One of the tourists took note of the design of the facility. Another had questions about who handles maintenance and janitorial services.
Delisser said the department learns something new with each project, and that knowledge enhances future projects.
“We learned some lessons when we built (the volleyball facility), which then helped with the design of the cross-country course,” he said. “It helped us check every box.”
In the swim
Back on the bus, the tour wrapped up at HAC, completed in 2017. In 2018, ARPA honored HAC with the Facility of the Year Award.
The project joined an existing 50-meter swimming pool in the Brahan Spring Park Natatorium with two new swimming pools to create one of the largest indoor aquatics complexes in the United States.
In addition to competitions, HAC offers the public a place to swim year-round via instructional classes, water exercise and aerobics. Lifeguard training is also available there.
HAC Supervisor C.J. Van Kampen led visitors on a tour of the pool facilities and explained how water temperatures stay at 81 degrees for public swim and 79 degrees for competitions. Several tourists couldn’t resist the urge to stick a hand in the water. He also showed off the state-of-the-art pumps, filters and equipment necessary to keep the pools clean.
The tour was enlightening to Zach Tverberg, an athletic supervisor with Florence Parks & Recreation. He also spoke highly of the ARPA conference, which was his first.
“This is impressive,” he said, looking out across the competition pool. “John Hunt Park is impressive. Huntsville is booming.”
He said the tour, as well as the classes offered at the ARPA conference, provided opportunities for parks and rec officials to bring new ideas back to their respective cities and towns. And though all the conference attendees hailed from different parts of the state, Tverberg said their goals were the same.
“We all work together for the people of our communities,” he said. “Parks and rec is the lifeline because it offers both kids and adults positive interaction. With COVID and people being out of work and school, it’s good to see people smiling, and we can provide that.”