MOORESVILLE – Seventy years ago, a “cherished dream” was fulfilled in Mooresville.

That’s how the Mooresville Tribune described the Oct. 13, 1949, unveiling of the first section of the War Memorial Center on Maple Street, just east of downtown.

“The left wing of the War Memorial Building of the War Memorial Center will be formally opened Friday night with ceremonies befitting this important occasion in the lives of south Iredell citizens,” the paper declared a day before the event.

The unveiling coincided with Mooresville High School’s homecoming game against Kannapolis, with the band playing at the opening ceremony and then leading the parade to Moor Field. The homecoming dance also was the first event hosted by the facility.

“Famous Mallard Creek barbecue specialist J.W. Oehler” prepared the barbecue dinner, for which tickets cost $1.

A full set of speakers, headlined by UNC-Chapel Hill sociologist and renowned recreation advocate Harold D. Meyer, offered their takes on what the project meant to Mooresville.

Organizers of the unveiling even made a point to invite “all of the rural folks of south Iredell.”

In other words, it was a big deal.

“It’s been said that the construction of the War Memorial Recreation Center marked the beginning of public recreation in Mooresville,” said Parks and Recreation Director Pam Reidy 70 years later.

And the cost of the project?

A grand total of $56,984.91.

As the town looks to replace the landmark, the projected cost reflects the passage of seven decades.

Options to replace the complex range from slightly less than $30 million to $42.6 million, according to plans revealed by consultants hired by the town.

“We want to continue that community spirit and provision of quality recreation services for Mooresville residents with a new facility and park space that welcomes everyone for another 70 years,” Reidy said.

Architectural firm Barker Rinker Seacat from Denver, Colo., revealed potential plans during an open house at the center July 9.

Breaking it down

Pools are the primary difference in the three proposed options.

• With a renovated outdoor “leisure” pool but no indoor aquatics facilities, the estimated cost is $29,756,908.

• With indoor and outdoor leisure pools, the estimated cost is $38,899,230.

• With no outdoor pool, an indoor leisure pool and six-lane lap pool, the proposed price tag is $42,603,229.

All three proposals call for:

• A child-watch area (1,065 square feet).

• Two multipurpose rooms (2,106 square feet).

• Indoor playground (1,550 square feet).

• Classroom space for 50 people (1,697 square feet).

• Arts and crafts room (936).

• Party/crafts room (936 square feet).

• Lounge (878 square feet).

• Kitchen (1,082 square feet).

• Gym space (16,708 square feet).

• Elevated track for running and walking (6,825 square feet).

• Weight training and fitness area (5,320 square feet).

• Two aerobics/dance studios (3,393 square feet).

“The Town of Mooresville aspires to create a new center which promotes health, connection and well being for all generations,” the consultants say in their presentation of the plans. It will be “a place honoring War Memorial/Liberty Park’s historic place while embracing a vibrant future for the town; an inclusive and inviting space that connects us to one another and inspires community pride.”

Razing what was created as a war memorial has raised concern from some citizens, but Reidy said the rebuilt center and improvements to the neighboring Liberty Park also will pay tribute to those who have served.

“Liberty Park Phase I – now under construction – will include a Veterans Promenade with a public art piece that honors veterans past, present and future,” she said. “A concept for the new War Memorial Center is to include a corridor in the community wing of the facility that is dedicated to telling the story of the War Memorial Center through public art and the historical plaques that are now scattered in and around the facility.”

The town will continue to take public input before deciding on next steps for the complex.

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