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story.lead_photo.caption Jeff Owens, parks director for the city of Batesville, stands in the hallway leading to the indoor aquatics space of the Batesville Community Center and Aquatics Park. Owens and other city officials recently accepted the 2017 Facility of the Year award from the Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association. Owens is a past president and board member of the statewide association. - Photo by William Harvey

— City leaders and residents have experienced their own Field of Dreams theme: “Build it, and they will come.”

With the passage of a community-development tax initiative in 2012, residents approved the building of a community center. The Batesville Community Center and Aquatics Park opened its doors to the public June 9 and now has a membership of approximately 6,000 people.

The city recently received state recognition for its state-of-the-art facility.

“The Batesville Community Center and Aquatics Park won the Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association’s 2017 Facility of the Year award in the $500,000 and greater category,” said Kitty Lane, executive director of the Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association in Little Rock. She noted that the local facility falls into the “$500,000 and greater category” based on its budget.

“Each year, the Arkansas Recreation and Parks Association recognizes outstanding facilities, programs and individuals throughout the state. ARPA awards are selected by a committee and announced at the annual conference, which was in Rogers on Nov 1-3,” Lane said.

“This is a great award,” said Jeff Owens, parks director for the city of Batesville.

“We have to credit the community for this achievement,” he said. “The evidence is in how [the facility] is being used. We have already held many, many events here, and the daily usage has been phenomenal.”

Owens said the center includes 105,000 square feet under one roof, as well as an outdoor water park.

ETC Engineers and Architects of Little Rock designed the $21.8 million project; G.A.G. Builders of Cabot served as the general contractor.

The Batesville Community Center and Aquatics Park features three levels.

Owens said the facility includes a 29,000-square-foot gymnasium on the ground level that can accommodate three high-school regulation basketball courts and up to six regular-sized volleyball courts and can seat up to 3,000 people for a concert or other event. There is also a racquetball court, an indoor walking track and a commercial kitchen for catering needs.

“We’ve already held banquets for groups like the Wild Turkey Federation and Ducks Unlimited,” Owens said. “We hosted the Batesville Chamber of Commerce Business Expo, too. We have many events already booked between now and Christmas.”

The group exercise room and weight and cardio rooms are on the next level. The top level houses meeting and boardrooms, as well as a balcony space.

Owens said the aquatics portion of the center features both indoor and outdoor spaces. The indoor aquatic center includes a heated therapy pool, an eight-lane pool and an indoor splash pad. The seasonal outside waterpark features a splash pad, a water slide, a wading pool, a dive pool and a lazy river.

“We were booked to capacity and more, all summer long,” he said, noting the popularity of the outside waterpark.

“The community uses this facility. The success of the center is in the success stories we hear every day,” Owens said.

“I recently talked with a couple in their mid-40s,” he said. “Since they started coming here, they have lost 30 pounds apiece.

“The other day in the fitness room, I observed an 81-year-old on an exercise bike and a 25-year-old on the next bike. Our success is found in the people who come here.”

Owens mentioned several swim meets that the center has hosted since it opened.

“This brings in revenue not only for this community center but for the community as a whole,” Owens said. “When people come to events like these, they spend money in your town. … They eat at your restaurants and stay at your hotels.”

Owens said membership fees for the facility are low.

“For residents, the monthly fee for a senior citizen is $10,” he said, noting that these lowest fees must be paid annually in full or set up on a monthly bank draft with a debit or credit card. “For an individual, it’s $20 a month; for a couple, $35; and for a family of four, $40.”

Nonresident memberships are available as well.

For more information on the Batesville Community Center and Aquatics Park, visit or call (870) 698-2427; information is also available on Facebook. The facility is at 1420 S. 20th St. in Batesville.

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