Collaboration served as the core of the CORE, according to Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb.
Ceremonial groundbreaking for the Center of Recreational Excellence, formerly called the Health, Wellness and Learning Center, drew more than 300 people Monday afternoon.
Cobb told the attendants he hopes the successful construction of this $63.5 million facility will teach future generations the importance of collaboration.
“If there’s any legacy I think our Quality of Live Committee wants to give to our community, it’s that we need to always think about collaboration first before we think about a single entity or a single concept,” he told the NewsSun after the groundbreaking ceremony.
“The first thought should be how can we benefit the community, how can we leverage our operating and capital expenses?” Cobb added. “That makes us a so much stronger community.”
The Quality of Life Committee and funding partners for the CORE included the City of Hobbs, the J. F Maddox Foundation, New Mexico Junior College, Hobbs Municipal Schools District, Lea County and the University of the Southwest.
All were represented on the stage and in the audience along with Lea County’s legislators, Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs; Rep. David Gallegos, R-Eunice; Rep. Larry Scott, R-Hobbs.
Other speakers at the ceremony included Hobbs City Manager J.J. Murphy, Maddox Foundation President James M. Maddox, NMJC past president Steve McCleery, NMJC current president Kelvin Sharp; Lea County Commission Chairman Ron Black and design and construction team representative Craig Bouck.
Maddox, calling the groundbreaking and construction of the CORE the culmination of a dream, said, “Mark your calendars. Memorial Day, 2018, May
28. Bring your swimsuit, bring your soccer ball, bring your basketball, bring your running shoes, bring a book to read in the lounge overlooking the swimming pool and track and soccer field.
“This is going to be a special place for a special community for a long time.”
McCleery echoed Cobb’s sentiment regarding collaboration.
“Folks, I hope you understand you can never discount the fact that when people come together, special things happen,” McCleery said.
Cobb explained the name change at this juncture.
“We went through a branding analysis. We wanted to be sure we had something we could create a brand and do marketing around,” he said. “We wanted to give it some brand equity for national and regional markets. A lot of things we’re going to be doing here, we have to make commitments 12 to 14 months out, such as competition swimming, competition soccer, all those kinds of things.”
He pointed out Lea County’s intention to bid on another New Mexico Association of Counties conference and the city’s hope to make the CORE part of the marketing.
“We need to get this thing open and generating revenue. Whether it generates revenue internally, or generates revenue for our local businesses, it needs to be open and generating revenue,” Cobb concluded. According to the City, the recreational facility will supply the area’s economy with up to 300 jobs during construction. It will include numerous meeting areas, an indoor soccer field, a multi-use indoor court, an indoor lap pool that meets NAIA, NCAA, and high school regulations, an indoor therapy pool with 1,100 square feet of water surface area, an indoor track that will wrap around the inside of the facility, and an indoor recreational pool with 3,300 square feet of water surface area.
The recreational pool will have two water slides. The body slide will have a 32-inch diameter and be 262-feet long. The tube slide will have a 52-inch diameter and be 425-feet long, longer than a football field. The two slides will start from the concrete tower more than 40 feet above the pool deck, making it the highest indoor slide in New Mexico. All this activity will revolve around a central core in the facility, where the indoor play area will be.
Black told the crowd he plans to use the family-friendly facility himself.
“I’m going to be out here swimming. I’m going to be out here walking the walking trail,” he said. “I’m going to be watching my grandkids playing soccer. This is truly a multi-generational facility.”
Bouck noted the rarity of six public and private organizations collaborating to bring a community recreational facility to reality.
“Never in 22 years of designing community centers have I had the opportunity to work with this many partners,” he said. “We’re going to create a new paradigm in recreation centers. This is a groundbreaking today for a groundbreaking project.”
Reporter Curtis Wynne may be contacted at 575-391-5436.