New city parks and recreation property holds open house Thursday

Thursday, August 28, 2014 | 2:33 p.m. CDT; updated 8:53 p.m. CDT, Thursday, August 28, 2014

COLUMBIA — The public is invited to attend an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday at the Hillcrest Community Center, 1907 Hillcrest Drive.

A dedication ceremony at the center's Moss Building, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Thursday, will feature speeches from Mayor Bob McDavid, previous owner Hank Waters and Beverly Coberly from MU Extension.

The property was repurposed to house department offices and classes from the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. There is also a building available for public rental similar to the Riechmann Pavilion.

The Moss building has two larger rooms, a kitchen, bathroom, lobby and its own parking. "We anticipate it holding approximately 150 people between the two rooms," said Karen Chandler, recreation superintendent.

People will be able to use it for public meetings, parties and weddings at $35 per hour, starting Oct. 1.

The $350,000 renovations for the two buildings came from the Recreation Services Fund, money that previously had been used to pay for the lease of office space from privately owned property near Stephens Lake. Those offices will be housed in the new complex.

Future plans include renovating two houses on the property — Jones and Waters — by the end of winter. The $255,000 funding comes from the park sales tax.

"The Jones house will mimic after the Rock Quarry house," parks services manager Gabe Huffington said. The smaller property will serve as another public rental facility for baby and wedding showers and meetings.

The larger Waters house will be converted into a ranger station for the two park rangers and the two to three part-time rangers.

"They will be able to to run all the computers out of there and have a place to go back to when they aren't driving around," Huffington said. "We are focusing on other projects first because we can do interior renovations in the winter."

There are also plans to begin building a playground, shelter and restrooms on the property within a month.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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