Now just two months old, the new North Fort Myers Recreation Center has breathed new life into a town in sore need of providing programs and services for its residents.
And the coming year promises a lot more, with programs focused on bringing in some of the younger crowd.
According to Libby Olive, the Parks & Rec supervisor of the center, the first couple months have been very busy, especially when it comes to memberships, which are required to use the facility.
A one-time fee of $10 is required for individuals and $25 for a family of three or more. This entitles general use of the facility, including the gym and game room, but not the weight room and most classes.
"We've got around 2,400 members already, which in two months is pretty good," Olive said. "I would expect us to continue to get 1,200 more. During the snowbird season we're getting people saying they didn't know this was here."
Much of what happens at the rec center involves the Share Club, which is run by the Lee Memorial Health System and has a representative who runs their programs and uses space in the building.
Many of their programs occur in the daytime for people 50 and over. They feature ceramics and painting classes, line dancing, language classes, and much more.
"You have to be a member of the Share Club to take part in their activities, but first, you have to be a member of the rec center," Olive said. "We're getting a lot of members through the Share Club."
Twelve months is a long time, and with a new club, those in charge are still trying to get a feel for what may and may not work. But the rec center is going to do some interesting things during season.
Olive said they are partnering with the Rotary Club to feature free concerts in the park where the back patio is from now until April.
The first concert will be Jan. 18 from 6 to 9 p.m. with Black Water, a rock and country band.
Also, from Jan. 24 to the end of April, the center will hold master gardening classes on Saturdays with the extension office, which has moved into the center with their office closings, and there will also be Zumba classes held starting in February.
Olive said she is trying to cater to people of middle age.
"We're focusing on recreational opportunities for those still working. They're held at night or on the weekend," Olive said. "We'll be starting adult basketball leagues, youth leagues, and a new flag football program that will start Jan. 18."
The meeting rooms are being put to good use, with the Share Club, North Fort Myers Civic Association, the Quilt Guild and Rotary Club meeting there, along with many others. Olive said the rooms have been so used that the center has had to turn some organizations down.
When the snowbirds leave, the center will hold summer camp children and teens, with registration beginning at the end of February.
In other words, there's a lot happening, and area residents have getting the fever for the flavor of North Fort Myers' newest jewel.
"We're seeing what the interest is. We're not going to duplicate the senior programs with the Share Club. We're focusing on the 18- to 45- age group," Olive said. "Every day we get people walking in that we've never met before."