MONTGOMERY, WV (WOAY) – “It’s something I want to build a lot more friendships on and something I put a lot of my time into,” says 13-year-old Wyatt Coleman.
“Hopefully, we can show people that this community wants this place back, just like I do.”
The former Neal D. Baisi Athletic Center may just be a building to the groups who left it behind. But to the City of Montgomery, it’s a place of community, well-being, memories, and lots of potential.
Once a place of fitness for WVU Tech, then the YMCA, residents still have much they can use the building for, and they are coming together to take a look at the vision.
“We are hoping to get some attention so that people realize that this is here, we want it open, and we will support it,” says Lou Ann Bowmen of the Montgomery Park Board.
At its peak, the fitness center was host to swim lessons, scuba diving, archery classes, among a lot of other activities, and it saw guests throughout Fayette and Kanawha counties coming to take part in the action.
But, after 20 years of neglecting the work the building needs to bring it back up to standard, it now calls for the community’s help to save it.
“It’s just been a real void, and we kind of feel like we’ve been deserted by the state as far as that goes,” Bowmen says.
The city is pledging to operate the building if they can get the funds they need to do it, which is right now depending on the permission from the governor’s office, but with the whole community coming together, the vision for the center may soon become a reality.
The doors of the fitness center were open to the community all day Saturday and people were free to come in and write down their ideas for the building’s potential, as well as take part in the activities going on.
The City of Montgomery encourages citizens to contact the governor’s office and let them know why the Athletic Center should stay open.