Sports facility added to Bowie’s proposed budget -- Gazette.Net







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Bowie residents will have more space to ice skate and play volleyball and basketball thanks to a new indoor sports facility that will be added to Bowie’s proposed budget.

The Bowie City Council agreed to add the $23.5 million sports facility Tuesday to the proposed budget after residents pushed for a new sports building during previous City Council meetings. If approved, city staff estimated the building would open in December 2018. It would include five hardwood basketball courts, two ice rink sheets and six volleyball courts laid on top of the courts.

“The city is diverse … it allows people of different ethnicities to be part of a different sport,” said Mike Huckaby of Bowie, referring to the city’s decision to mix courts and ice rinks. “The decision from the council overall is a social responsibility.”

The push by residents to build a new sports facility was due to lack of space at the city’s gymnasium and the ice arena. Residents said the basketball courts and ice rink were booked solid, limiting time for the sports clubs to practice and individuals to have free time.

Originally the city’s staff proposed a budget that did not include a new facility due to concerns about the city taking on debt to pay for a large project. Mayor G. Frederick Robinson cautioned residents on May 5 that building a new facility may require saving money for several years.

But on Tuesday, Robinson and a majority of the council supported adding the facility in wake of resident support.

“Family is first here in Bowie and we need to move forward with taking care of our residents first,” said Councilman Henri Gardner (Dist. 3).

Joe Williams, president of the South Bowie Boys and Girls Club, said he was glad that the council decided to mix the ice rink and courts as both were needs. The club uses the gymnasium often for holding practices for its youth teams.

“I like the idea,” Williams said. “They are addressing needs of the community.”

By adding the facility to the proposed budget, City Council will vote on the project during its Monday meeting at City Hall, 15901 Excalibur Road.

Not every council member supported the mixed indoor sports facility. Councilman Dennis Brady (At-large) said council members should have considered building the rink and courts separately so future councils could expand them in the future.

“My fear is that it would become landlocked,” Brady said. “We should build the ice rink first and then the courts.”