Oak Island plans to broaden recreation middle

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A recent survey shows that Oak Island residents want more fitness and exercise facilities and a pool to swim in.

The poll was a result of the city’s plan to expand its recreation center, and Recreation Director Heather O’Brien presented the results during the Oct. 11 city council meeting.

Here’s what you need to know about the survey and plans for expansion.

What did the survey reveal?

Oak Island’s Recreation Department launched the User Demographics and Satisfaction Survey on September 16 through the city’s website. It ended on September 30th. During that time, the city received 290 responses from over 8,000 residents. Of the respondents, 194 said they lived in a two-person household, and 43.4 percent of respondents said the people in their household were between the ages of 55 and 69.

The results showed the department’s five most popular recreational programs: special events such as parades and festivals; outdoor events; hiking and hiking; organized programs for adults, such as fitness and art classes and “turtle talks”; and outdoor adventures like kayaking.

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The results also showed that the top five most requested recreational programs and facilities were: fitness classes, swimming, a pool, exercise, and hiking.

This drawing was presented to the Oak Island City Council during its October 11 meeting as a proposal to expand the city's recreation center.

It may be difficult to fulfill some of the requests

O’Brien explained that while the recreation department currently offers fitness classes, those requested in the survey are not currently offered by the city. She added that the reasons the city is not currently offering these programs are due to a lack of space and a lack of instructors to teach.

Residents have been very vocal about their desire for a pool and swimming, which O’Brien says isn’t surprising.

“Again, the space we have and the area we’re looking at just can’t accommodate an aquarium object,” she said.

What happens to the data?

O’Brien said the data is helping the city determine what they may or may not need as they expand the recreation center.

City Manager David Kelley pointed out that the survey is an important part of the grant application process because it would earn the city additional points. He noted that the city also met with several groups, including educators, various clubs and nonprofits, and a Silver Sneakers practice group. During these meetings, they discussed the space requirements and the specific requirements for the course offering.

As a result of the meetings, Kelly said they modified the original design to make it a one-story building with a kitchen and storage room at one end and a gymnasium with a basketball court at the other end. The 6,500 square meter extension would be connected to the existing building.

The current Oak Island Recreation Center at 3003 East Oak Island Drive.  The city is trying to renovate the facility.

The plan also envisages the demolition of the existing toilet and changing rooms to enlarge these spaces and create new storage areas.

Council members expressed concerns about the survey data due to the small sample of islanders. City councilors also raised concerns about the size, scope and funding of the project, saying they want it to be a “scene” and a facility that can accommodate projected growth on the city’s mainland.

Council-requested staff are developing various design options with advanced features and cost estimates that will be presented to the council at a future meeting.