When the Parker Memorial Center/Kelvin D. Anderson Gymnasium was built in 1959, Dwight D. Eisenhower was still president and Elvis Presley was the “King of Rock and Roll.”
Times have changed and the City of Hartford is already in the intial stages of dmolishing the old Parker-Anderson Center and building a sleek, new center on the site (which is located off Main Street, between Earle and Westland Streets).
On Monday afternoon, City officials and neighborhood representatives held a press conference at the Parker-Anderson Center to announce that demolition of the rear portion of the building has already begun and the project is scheduled for completion in 2010.
Mayor Eddie Perez said the Parker-Anderson Center renovation will be done in two phases so that the center can remain open throughout the project. “We cannot afford to shut down this facility...we need to keep providing recreation opportunities to the young people – and the adults – of this neighborhood.”
Phase one of the project involves demolishing the center’s pool and locker rooms in the rear of the building and building a new pool, gym and weight room. The front part of the center will be demolished in Phase two and a new game room, meeting room and classrooms will be built.
Perez said the new Parker-Anderson Center will be bigger, more accessible and more technologically advanced than the current facility. The project has a budget of $17 million with $15 million earmarked for construction. Du Bose Associates of Hartford is serving as architect for the project and Lupachino & Salvatore. Inc. of Bloomfield will be the general contractor. To Design of New Britain will handle the landscape architecture.
Helen Nixon, President of the Northeast NRZ said she is pleased that the Parker-Anderson Center renovation is now up and running and hopes the project will spur on other improvements in the neighborhood as a whole.
In addition to recreational opportunities, the new Parker-Anderson Center will also be able to serve as a temporary shelter for up to 300 people, said City Architect Tony Matta. The Pope Park Recreation Center has served in just such way during large scale power outages and other emergencies.
Councilman Luis Cotto, who also spoke at Monday’s press conference, said, “Having worked at the Pope Park Recreation Center, I have seen its success as both a center of community and as a temporary shelter. I’m glad to see it happening in other parts of the city.”
Hartford resident Corey Winston, age 30, said he has been going to the Parker-Anderson Center since he was 10 and now takes his children there. His advice to city officials was simple: “Make this place as beautiful as you can.”