With cake, games and activities for all ages, staff and law enforcement personnel along with gaggles of thrilled children, the Lincoln Recreation Center in College Station celebrated the completion of more than $3.4 million worth of renovations on Saturday.
The city’s voters approved the multifaceted renovation project in 2008.
Lincoln Center supervisor Cheletia Johnson said that the facility’s staff members strive to improve the quality of life for children, youth, seniors and families “through culturally responsive educational and social service activities.”
“It’s providing a safe haven for kids, a place of socialization for our older adults and for our young adults. It’s a place to get your game on and to exercise,” Johnson said. “For those looking for social services, it’s a place where you can get some help in the immediate neighborhood.”
The renovations included an overhaul of the facility’s adjacent outdoor pavilion and accompanying basketball courts, Johnson said. Painting, flooring, asbestos elimination, cabinet replacements and new lighting were among the completed renovations.
According to Johnson, the new building features five multipurpose rooms that can fill an array of recreational, social, meeting and rental needs. It also has an open area for physical activities and a fully furnished workout area with state-of-the-art equipment.
Johnson encouraged area residents to visit the renovated center to get a sense of the space as well as its myriad offerings for community members of all ages.
“I call it a second home,” Johnson said. “This is a place where people find fellowship and friendship.”
College Station Mayor Karl Mooney said Friday evening that the facility, at more than 15,300 square feet, helps the city live out its mission of serving all of its residents. He praised the multigenerational nature of the center.
“The Lincoln Center shows that a facility doesn’t only need to be focused on one portion of the population,” Mooney said. “With good planning and programming, a facility can benefit folks of all levels and backgrounds for a variety of purposes. It’s nice to see that the Lincoln Center is meeting the needs of everyone who wants to be able to use it.”
Jade Robinson, a 12-year-old College Station resident who frequents the Lincoln Center in the summertime, said that basketball is a particular favorite center activity of his — and of many of his friends.
“I’ve been here for a lot of years, and it’s always fun to come back and see familiar faces,” Robinson said. “It’s a place with a happy environment.”
The Lincoln Recreation Center was once Lincoln High School, which was the school for black students from the 1940s until 1966, when College Station’s schools became fully integrated. The Lincoln Center was formally dedicated in June 1980.
“The Lincoln Center and its long, long history demonstrates that the citizens of College Station recognize that everyone deserves to have a quality of life that is most enjoyable,” Mooney said. “The Lincoln Center has done all that it can in the various ways that it’s been used to meet that need, and so it’s an exciting time to see this expansion.”
At Saturday’s celebration, speakers acknowledged the Lincoln Center’s history. The Rev. Kevin Haliburton, an area music teacher and minister, led a tribute to the high school through song. The Rev. Dan De Leon, senior pastor of Friends Congregational Church in College Station, invoked Lincoln High’s motto — “Forever forward, backward never” — in his invocation prayer at the celebration.
“May every game played here, may every class offered here, every tutoring session provided here and every mentoring session developed here help all of us understand deeply our mutual need to show one another the fruits of the spirit,” De Leon said.