NORRISTOWN — A brand new era of wellness and fun will be ushered in when the Norristown Recreation Center opens its doors Dec. 7. 

The grand opening celebration, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., will feature an appearance by Santa Claus, refreshments, T-shirt giveaways, information about the center, crafts for kids and a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m.

Thereafter, admission to the building at 1101 Harding Blvd. that was the former home of the Greater Norristown Police Athletic League will be allowed through a punch card system, noted Recreation Manager Erica Genuardi, who explained that a flat rate of $20 will buy you 30 visits to the center.

"A visit constitutes leaving the building, and you can use your visits however you like; you can come in twice a day or once every other month. If you come in to play basketball, sit and hang out with friends, you'll need a punch card. If you're coming in for a program through Norristown Recreation that you paid for, you don't need a punch card for that, or if you're there to take a workshop by a third party."

Saturday's visitors will learn about options to use the Norristown Recreation Center in the manner that best suits their needs, noted Genuardi, who pointed out that the facility was designed according to residents' feedback.

"You can come in and play basketball, play soccer, have pickup games. Also, if you want to come in and just read, we have a lounge area set up, do after-school work. "

Age restrictions will be in place, Genuardi said.

"If you're 12 and above, you can be alone in the facility; if you are 11 and under, we are looking for a guardian or a parent."

After the building was acquired by the municipality in early 2018, the full renovation took a little more than a year and a half, noted Public Information Officer Gabriella Prete.

"PAL had folded and they were looking to sell the building. We came in, and it just so happened that we were looking for a building to use as a recreation center," Prete said.

"I went through the same processes as any business that's renovating, with the permits, we brought everything up to code, painted everything, resurfaced the gym floor and we're now in the process of meeting ADA (American Disabilities Act regulations)," Genuardi noted.

The space is divided to accommodate all manner of activity and will be available to rent.

"There are four classroom-size rooms in the basement area, and one room that we flipped into a group exercise area, so we can bring in dance classes, group exercise areas, classes for seniors," Genuardi said.

"On the main floor there is a multi-purpose room that I'm looking to use for family-oriented classes, arts and crafts. On the third floor, one half is set up for a lab type environment. Hopefully we're going to get a grant so that we can offer technology classes for residents, and the other side will be a conference room that we can rent out."

Rental possibilities run the gamut, Genuardi indicated.

"If you want to have a birthday party, we can do that. We've also had a lot of inquiries about fundraisers. If I have basketball leagues in the gym and you want to rent the gym for a birthday party, I can't put you in there that day but I can tell you we have these other rooms available."

Mini camps featuring activities geared to youth are now in the planning stages.

Perhaps more than any other element, the striking maroon-colored awnings out front signal the re-branding of the building for its new chapter.

"It was something different," Genuardi said. "The previous organization had blue, and that's wonderful, but with the new organization, new leadership and management we just wanted to re-brand it. It's an easy, clean color and it went very well with the logo I made."

From track to baseball, the logo celebrates athletics in four separate squares.

"I'm actually meeting with Signarama tomorrow to put signage on the building," Genuardi said.

"Standard hours for Norristown Recreation Center are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For information, call 610-272-8080, ext. 1093, or email recreation@norristown.org

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