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Monday, Jul 28, 2014

A Few Clouds, 64 °F

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MRC ribbon cutting

Ohio University President Roderick McDavis cuts the ribbon at the dedication of the Muskingum Recreation Center. Pictured with him, from left, are James Fonseca, Beth Chapman, Jenifer Cushman, Milman Linn, Wayne Wycoff and Charles Savage.

Troy Balderson

State Sen. Troy Balderson addressed those in attendance at the June 2 dedication of the Muskingum Recreation Center.

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Muskingum Recreation Center dedication ceremony draws donors, partners together


“When you’re surrounded with good people, great things happen,” said Beth Chapman, executive director of the Muskingum Recreation Center.

Many of those good people gathered on Monday, June 2, to dedicate their joint effort and achievement – the Muskingum Recreation Center. Sen. Troy Balderson, State Rep. Brian Hill, and Ohio University Zanesville Dean Dr. Jenifer Cushman were on hand to help dedicate the new facility. After Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis cut the official ribbon for the facility, he commented, “This is so significant for the community, and it’s already being used in a powerful way to change and affect lives.”

The recreation center began as a feasibility study eight years ago. The Muskingum County YMCA had long endeavored to supply the community with an indoor aquatic facility since its old facility on South Fifth Street in downtown Zanesville was demolished 30 years ago. The feasibility study showed strong community support for an aquatic facility, and the campus of Ohio University Zanesville was chosen as the ideal location. Architect Tom Poulos, of Williams Architects, remembers.

“At beginning of the feasibility study, the question was this: How do we make this work from a business perspective – with students here at Ohio University Zanesville and Zane State, the community, and the partners all coming together as one to use this facility together? It was really a grassroots, organized project. From the beginning everybody was dedicated – all of the partners here in the community. They had some great visions and some great dreams. Indoor aquatics was certainly a big piece of it, and it grew from there,” Poulos said.

In 2010, the capital campaign began. Board of Trustees Secretary and Assistant Dean of Development for the Zanesville Campus Cindy Linn reminisced from the podium. “Donors walked in this field three years ago, and we asked them, ‘If we build it, will you come?’ We promised it would be spectacular, and it is,” Linn pronounced.

According to Linn, getting those donors on board became easier after a $1 million donation to the capital campaign. The donors wanted to remain anonymous, Linn stated. The donors’ identities were revealed only after their deaths. “Joseph and Annabel Norman gave in hopes it would make others open their wallets and be ready to get behind this project,” said Linn. After that point, donors began to step forward, and four community entities worked together to make the dream of a recreation center become a reality.

Genesis HealthCare System, the Muskingum County Community Foundation and the Muskingum Family YMCA joined in partnership with the Ohio University Zanesville Campus to develop the facility, known as the Muskingum Recreation Center (MRC). After ground broke on construction in November 2012, hundreds of individuals and community businesses stepped forward to contribute to the project. Today, they see those contributions come to life in a self-sustaining aquatic/recreation facility that surpasses their expectations.

Elaine Fonseca is a financial contributor, member, and wife of Dr. James Fonseca, president of the MRC’s Board of Trustees. She is delighted with the fruition of her husband’s investment of time and effort. She shared, “It’s everything I hoped for and more. Before the grand opening, I came in and I was like a 5-year-old walking around, saying ‘Oh, wow!’ In those five years, a lot of time and work went into this, but look around. It’s a wonderful place!”

Joyce Dittmar contributed because of her family’s long-time investment into the former YMCA. Dittmar, who was the first female president of the Zanesville YMCA in 1972, says the Y had been a mainstay for her children and grandchildren for many years. Now, she is amazed by the new joint recreation center. “It’s a long cry from what we had. This is just a lovely facility,” Dittmar said.

Members of the former YMCA and Genesis Lifestyle Fitness Center, and Ohio University Zanesville and Zane State’s students now can enjoy the Muskingum Recreation Center’s many features: a 10,000-square-foot fitness center floor; a walking track; a 2,300-square-foot warm water activity pool; the 25-yard, eight-lane lap pool; and many exercise classes.

Zanesville resident Ned Thompson and Ohio University Zanesville Professor Dr. Jared Farley both were former members of the Genesis Lifestyle Fitness Center, and are pleased with the variety and accessibility of the new facility.

“I use it every day – sometimes twice a day,” Farley stated. “In comparison to the old Genesis Lifestyle Fitness Center, this is much, much bigger. You never have to wait for the elliptical machine or treadmills.”

Thompson agreed. “It’s so spacious. You definitely don’t have to wait on anything. If you need help, there is help here and equipment to do anything you’d like to do – whatever your fitness goals,” Thompson said.

Ohio University Zanesville nursing student Cameron Chapman had the same sentiments. “There’s more variety than in the old Littick Hall – more to choose from,” Chapman said. He added that the accessibility on campus is the best feature for students. “I fit in workouts between classes. I mainly use the weights and cardio equipment, hit the sauna and showers, and go back to class. You really have everything you need here.”

For more information on joining the Muskingum Recreation Center, visit www.muskingumrecreationcenter.org.