The Jackson community celebrated the completion of a $1.9 million renovation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center with an outdoor ribbon cutting Friday morning. The ribbon cutting event, which was attended by local officials and community members, marks the end of a seven month effort to rejuvenate an important part of Jackson’s south side neighborhood.
Small group tours of the center were given following the ribbon cutting. This is the first major renovation the MLK Center has seen since it was built in 1968. When recreation programs resume at the center, residents will see new signage, a new roof, improved parking lot, bigger windows and a new entrance. Inside, residents will enjoy a larger commercial kitchen, more office space for staff, expanded exercise room, renovated classrooms, improved bathrooms, a new lounge area and resurfaced gym floor.
Vice Mayor Arlene Robinson, who serves this area on the City Council, spoke at the ribbon cutting and said the King Center has been an important part of the community for 52 years. “We thank the City of Jackson for this big investment in our south side neighborhood. This multi-million dollar investment means a lot to us,” Robinson said.
Antonio Parker, a long-time Parks and Recreation Department Employee, recently assumed the role of MLK Center Director. Parker says he’s honored to part of a center that’s done so much for the community over the years. “This renovation will ensure that the MLK Center will be here for the next 52 years to help us further serve the community,” Parker said at the event.
The new director says the Parks and Recreation Department will consider what kind of programming will be offered at the center following the Nov. 3 General Election. The MLK Center serves as the polling place for Jackson’s First Ward.