HAMMOND | A $1.4 million upgrade to the Hammond Civic Center was unveiled Thursday by city officials.
The project renovated the men's and women's locker rooms, which now feature stand-up tanning booths and steam rooms, and added a new activity room.
“We're taking a building that was built in 1937, and you have a couple of options,” Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said.
“You could let it decay and let it fade away or you could reinvest in it and give it another 50 to 60 years of life, and we decided to reinvest in it and give it another 50 to 60 years of life.
"This is the heart of Hammond, and it's been the heart of Hammond for a long time. It's something we are very proud of.”
The project is the first of several planned renovations at the Civic Center. Later phases will improve the tracks and activity rooms and create a new workout room.
McDermott said the idea for the renovations was inspired by one of his neighbors asking why Hammond hadn't invested in the Civic Center, given the many seniors use the building.
The city funded the project through gaming revenue it receives from Horseshoe Casino.
Pat Moore, Hammond Parks and Recreation administrator, said the project also builds on the improvements made to the basketball court, which will allow the Civic Center to host basketball sectionals this season.
Work began on the locker rooms and activity room in November 2011.
There's no set timetable on when additional renovations will begin. Moore said work will occur as funding allows.
“Everybody in Hammond knows about the Civic Center,” Moore sad. “Not a lot of people are unfortunately aware of the health club down here. The center has been noted for high school basketball games, tournament basketball games and the circus, which is coming this month.”