by Mary Rupert
About $200,000 of renovations have been completed for the Joe E. Amayo Sr. Argentine Community Recreation Center at 2810 Metropolitan Ave., Kansas City, Kansas.
A new community room, new lighting and new flooring are part of the renovations, as well as four new air-conditioning units in the recreation center. The renovations were funded through private donations.
A ribbon-cutting was held on Thursday afternoon, where Unified Government Commissioner Ann Brandau Murguia described the fund-raising process that made the renovations possible.
The Argentine Neighborhood Development Association led the effort to renovate the center, and received some donations that made it possible, including a large donation from Kent Sunderland with the Sunderland Foundation, she said. Others involved with the project included Frontier Restoration, IAA Architects and Cates Heating and Cooling.
“I think it’s going to be a great space for everybody to use,” Commissioner Brandau Murguia said.
Mayor David Alvey, who attended the ribbon-cutting, said he remembered going there when the building was called the Argentine Parish House.
According to UG officials, the Argentine recreation center will become the second out of six Kansas City, Kansas, recreation center gyms to have air-conditioning.
Commissioner Brandau Murguia said at the time of renovation, she discovered the basketballs at the center were not in good condition. She asked for donations, and received 25 new basketballs from Atlanta, Georgia, as well as five new basketballs from a church in western Wyandotte County. In addition, Metro 24 purchased new volleyballs and basketballs.
The Amayo Argentine recreation center is part of a public-private partnership. On the west side of the building is Metro 24 Fitness Center.
Usage of the recreation center’s gym area was at 88 persons when Metro 24 Fitness Center came in, and that number now is 970 members, with 250 daily usage, according to officials.
Attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Lisa Amayo, granddaughter of the center’s namesake, said she was concerned that kids might be pushed out of the recreation center in favor of people who are members of Metro 24 Fitness.
According to Amayo, some children have been told they had to pay $1 to use the gym. One of the original ideas of the center, according to Amayo, was to help have a safe place for the local children to go, and she was concerned that some of them may not be able to afford it. She attended the event with Joe Amayo Jr., the son of the center’s namesake. She also was concerned about senior citizens groups’ access to the building.
Commissioner Brandau Murguia talked with Amayo after the ribbon-cutting, and planned a meeting with her to address her concerns.
Commissioner Brandau Murguia said she was in charge of the fund-raising process for the recreation center, but not in charge of how it is run or the day-to-day operations.
She said the residents of the Argentine area were surveyed and indicated they wanted a fitness center there. When she sought to have the center’s equipment and facilities upgraded, she said she was told by the UG administration that no funds were available.
Still trying to get the center improved, ANDA and she raised funds for the center. They contacted area fitness centers, and only one was interested in locating there, she said. Metro 24 Fitness runs the fitness program at the center, with weight equipment there.
According to the UG’s Parks and Recreation current fall and winter program guide, online at www.wycokck.org, the membership fee for Metro Fitness is $19.99 monthly or $200 annually for Kansas City, Kansas, residents, and higher for nonresidents.
Nonmembers are able to use the recreation center gym for a small fee, according to those attending the ribbon-cutting.
The parks and recreation guide also lists some programs throughout the other recreation centers Kansas City, Kansas, including some free programs as well as some that charge fees. Some of the other recreation centers have some limited programs, such as youth cheerleading or martial arts, that are run by outside organizations. Charging fees for parks and recreation services and programs was the topic of a UG meeting in the past year.