February 28, 2021 • Courtesy of NWI Times
Written by Chas Reilly
MERRILLVILLE — It’s been years in the making, and the Dean and Barbara White Community Center is set to open Monday.
The 94,000-square-foot facility at 6600 Broadway features a variety of amenities for indoor and outdoor activities and programs.
“It’s turned out to be an absolutely beautiful facility,” Town Councilman Shawn Pettit said.
There’s plenty of excitement about the community center and the benefits it will bring to the area.
“Monday is a big day in the history of the town of Merrillville, it really is,” Pettit said.
Inside the building is three basketball courts, six volleyball courts, an elevated track, rock/boulder climbing wall and a fitness area with free weights and other equipment. Outside of the center is an athletic field for soccer, football, lacrosse and other sports.
In addition to the athletic offerings, the site features multi-function event space for weddings, conferences, meetings and other occasions.
Developing the center has allowed the Parks Department to expand its programming options. Pilates, yoga, senior fitness, ballroom dancing, self-defense, Spanish lessons and preschool classes are among the offerings available there.
There also will be basketball, volleyball and pickle ball leagues as well as table tennis and Xbox tournaments.
“We’ll have something for everyone, and we can’t wait to welcome the community to the center,” Parks Director Jan Orlich said.
Although the facility hasn’t yet opened, several youth sports organizations have rental agreements in place to start using the facility on a weekly basis.
“The gym’s going to be busy right out of the get go,” Pettit said.
Accessing the Methodist Hospitals Fitness Center in the facility just became more affordable after the council on Tuesday approved an ordinance reducing charges.
The standard fitness center fee for Merrillville residents is $4 each day, $20 for one month and $55 for three months. The nonresident fee is $6 for daily access, $40 for one month and $85 for three months.
“I am happy the committee was able to lower prices, making this impressive facility affordable for everyone,” Councilman Leonard White said.
There are discounts for students, seniors, active military and veterans. The town also is offering household packages.
The council was able to reduce the fitness center charges because of the many organizations that committed to sponsorships.
“We cannot thank the sponsors enough, starting with the Dean and Barbara White Family (Foundation),” Pettit said.
The foundation awarded a $10 million gift to fund operations of the center. Merrillville is receiving $2 million disbursements during the next 5 years, and the gift will be administered through the Legacy Foundation.
Bosak Auto Group, Center Bank, NIPSCO, Mike Anderson Chevrolet, Holladay Properties, Methodist Hospitals, Meyers-Glaros Insurance and the Northwestern Indiana Building and Construction Trades Council are among entities that have committed to annual contributions for naming rights of basketball courts, the indoor concession area and other locations in the facility. That funding will be used for future capital expenses at the center.
“We’ve just been overwhelmed with sponsorships that have come in,” Council President Rick Bella said.
The Dean and Barbara White Community Center will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.
Visit merrillvilleparks.com for information about the facility and its offerings.