An outdoor recreation center is in the works for the Huddleston area, potentially opening as soon as May 1st.
Named Huddleston Veterans Memorial Courts, it will include a basketball court, road/roller hockey rink and pickleball courts and will be located at 3348 Trading Post Road in Huddleston.
“Many men and women have put a lot of themselves into the service of our nation,” says the mission statement of the project. “This facility is being built to honor the service of our veterans and provide a premier recreational facility for the Huddleston community. This institution recognizes the selflessness and bravery of veterans while helping to prepare today’s youth for tomorrow’s challenges through sport and healthy competition.”
Jeff Prowse, owner of Mitchell’s Point Marina, is leading the project and investing $60,000 from his company. He has also received support from local businesses and accepts donations from the public. To fund the project, anyone can purchase inscribed bricks to commemorate a veteran, an aspect of the center that is important to Prowse, who is a veteran himself. The stones are located in what is known as the Huddleston Memorial Courts Circle of Honor.
“Everyone has been very generous and either donated time or supplies or whatever,” Prowse said. “And the vision, essentially, is that it’s a memorial class … but it’s basically just a place for kids to drop out. And, you know, learn teamwork, learn self-control and all those things.”
The idea for the outdoor leisure center came from a need in the community. Since there are 83 campgrounds in the area, a few years ago campers set up a small area for the kids to play basketball. However, it was near a busy road.
After a piece of land was bought near the marina on Craddock Creek – mainly to have access to another well – there was plenty of space and the idea of building a basketball court was born. Because there is a need for open space for activities in the area, the project evolved to include a roller hockey rink and pickleball courts and opened it up to the entire community.
The hockey board is made possible with support from Liberty University, where he and his wife are coaches. Prowse said he coached ice hockey and had always been involved in youth sports.
Although Prowse has never played pickleball, his friends urged him to get the courts involved. With the first phase of the project complete — hopefully by May 1 — Prowse said what comes next is community-driven.
Should there be tennis courts and another basketball court? It depends on what the community wants, he said.
Eventually, Prowse plans to have more surveillance with keyless entry. Anyone can use the recreation center but must sign a release form. This would ensure a “nice, safe place for children to play,” Prowse said.
“Who knows what comes after that, but I want to focus on getting kids there and getting them to play,” Prowse said. “And then we’re going to do the landscaping and additions to the place first, but my big thing is basketball and roller hockey — to get that up and running quickly — and then we can always add more stuff later.”
The project is fully funded by the municipality with no state involvement.
Prowse said he had “the patience of a gnat,” so he didn’t want to go through the process to get help from county government or grants. However, once the recovery is in place and the local or state government wants to help with its future growth or sustainability, he is open to it.
Prowse is also considering a sports camp with summer leagues for kids and adults for basketball and roller hockey, but those are ideas for the future.
“We at Mitchell’s Point Marina see this as an investment in the future of our nation,” says the mission statement of the project. “When our children participate in team sports, they learn the values of dedication, cooperation, self-control and a host of other positive lessons.”
For now, Prowse is focused on laying the groundwork. He envisions it opening 24/7 sometime in May, but commercial basketball goals have been hard to come by. Other milestones include site maintenance and outdoor lighting.
The initial requirements for the project are expected to cost less than $100,000, but it can be expanded based on community donations.
“It’s going to be a huge benefit to the community and obviously it’s going to increase the value of people’s real estate down here because there’s going to be a nice park nearby and all those things,” Prowse said. “But I mean, the sky’s the limit.”
Those interested in purchasing a memorial stone to honor a veteran can visit www.bricksrus.com/donorsite/huddlestonvmc. Prices start at $100. For more information email Prowse at [email protected] (put “Huddleston VMC” in the subject line).
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