Twenty years later, Massillon Rec Center community gathering place

Gideon Pearce, 9, of Massillon enjoys the waterslide at the Massillon Rec Center on Friday. The facility is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

MASSILLON – It was a plan that started years before Jay Boodheshwar became the city’s parks department director.

In the mid-1990s, voters agreed to increase the city income tax with the new revenue dedicated to improving city parks, adding trails and eventually building a recreation center. 

Seven years later, on June 12, 2002, the promise to open a center was fulfilled.

It might be 20 years ago, but Boodheshwar remembers it like it was yesterday.

“I remember working together with staff, City Council, the mayor (Frank Cicchinelli) and other city departments to get ready for the ribbon cutting,” he said. “I still remember it very fondly standing there with the mayor and council. I remember the speeches. It was a really special moment.”

On June 24, the city will celebrate the 20th anniversary with a day of events and an open house at the facility, 505 Erie St. N. Residents are invited for free hot dogs and drinks from 11:30 a.m to 1 p.m., followed by an open house and family activities from 3 to 8 p.m.

The Up in Smoke BBQ food truck will be on-site from 5 to 8 p.m. and “Encanto” will be shown on the lawn at 8:45 p.m. Free popcorn will be served.

A group of teens play a pickup basketball game Friday at the Massillon Rec Center. The facility is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Massillon Rec Center offerings include basketball, swimming fitness room and running track 

Boodheshwar, who left the city in 2006 and headed south to Florida, came into the job in Massillon in late 2000. 

A lot of things had already been done when Boodheshwar stepped in.

The tax dollars approved by taxpayers years early had already paid for the new Community Park along Finefrock Road SW.

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