The Browns Mill recreation center, originally built in the 1980s, has gotten a half-million dollar upgrade.
The building has a new gym floor, bleachers, paint job, tile flooring, front doors and entry way, and renovated restrooms. An electric partition separates the gym from a multipurpose court area and doors throughout the building have been replaced.
“When you walk into the door you begin to feel the changes,” said Marvin Billups, deputy director of the DeKalb County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs. “We hope that we’re going to have the type of programs that will fill every room in this facility with countywide programs as well as programs unique to this center.”
The center also has a renovated kitchen and concession area with new appliances, cabinets and counters. Outside the center is a new pavilion and outdoor signage.
“I have a lot of fond memories of this particular center,” said Commissioner Stan Watson during the reopening ceremony July 24. “I remember when this center opened and I was complaining about the basketball floor.
“The basketball floor was tile with cement under it,” Watson said. “Anybody who plays basketball understands that if you have cement and tile, it hurts your knees.”
“Playing basketball…was just not ideal” on the old surface, Billups said.
“This is one of the first buildings we put in back in the 1980s,” Billups said. “It needed modernizing.”
“We couldn’t do an entire new building, but we thought we could bring some modern features to it,” Billups said.
The Browns Mill facility attracts crowds of patrons daily.
Before being suspended for the renovations, “the summer day camp program used to be so large that we had a lottery,” Billups said. “We run a number of major programs from this building. It’s one of our main facilities within the southern part of the county.”
Billups said the county is proud of the improvements at the facility.
“When you begin to take a look at this complex, we started with the athletic field, we moved to the aquatics facility and now we’ve taken an old building and given it a very new feel,” Billups said.
DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis, surrounded by youth during the reopening celebration of the center, said, “In the worst economic times in our lives DeKalb County is able to do so much.”
Ellis cited the county’s new Wade Walker YMCA, recreation centers at Redan and Exchange parks, and eight parks that have been improved.
“We’re dedicating this to our young people, to our youth, to our future,” Ellis said.