Ground broken on future site of Leonhard Recreation Center

After a year of planning, the Champaign Park District has broken ground on its new Leonhard Recreation Center that is due to open in spring 2014.

Wednesday’s groundbreaking was attended by many park district employees and board members including Joe Petry, park district president.

“Staff and the board are all very excited about the new facility,” Petry said. “It will be a great addition to the community.”

The new recreation center will be located near Centennial Park in Champaign at the corner of Sangamon Drive and Kenwood Road and will boast many new features that the current recreation center does not have, including a much desired geothermal heating and cooling system, said Bobbie Herakovich, executive director of the Champaign Park District.

“Parents of day campers are also thrilled as the summer day camp held at Leonhard becomes very hot during the summer without air conditioning despite staff efforts at fans and misters and outside activities,” Herakovich said.

Other new features will be an indoor playground, a walking track, basketball courts, volleyball courts and new activity rooms.

“The gym will have wood floors and air conditioning which we do not have in the current Leonhard Recreation Center,” said Joe DeLuce, director of recreation at the park district. “We also think the indoor playground and fitness rooms will be very popular for our residents.”

Herakovich said that the board is still deciding on what to do with the current recreation center building, but that it will likely become a support facility for the tennis courts located around the center.

Last year, the park district did an evaluation of the current recreation center and estimated that it would need around $400,000 worth of repairs, including a leaky roof, Herakovich said.

“So we decided to build a new facility to better meet today’s recreational needs,” she said.

Herakovich said that after they received the IPARC grant of $2.5 million last year for the project, the park district evaluated residents to see what they wanted in a new recreation facility.

Not only will the new recreation center have the new physical features, but the park district will also be offering sports and fitness programs along with special interest classes. It will also continue to be the primary place for the summer day camps that the park district currently offers and has over 800 participants in.

“We are confident the community will be as excited about the facility as we are,” Petry said. “We are excited to get it built!”

Kat can be reached at

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