Dave Williams, Ashley Smith

Ashley Smith, right, who was hired as Conway's director of parks and recreation in mid-July, goes over the day's schedule with assistant recreation director David Williams.

At the beginning of June, the newly-renamed City of Conway Sports and Fitness Center will re-open its doors to the public.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Parks and Recreation Director Ashley Smith.

Smith said that not only is the facility sporting a new moniker, it also will showcase some significant changes inside.

The gym was repainted and is now green and yellow, to represent the school colors of Conway High School and Whittemore Park Middle School. The pool has also been painted, and lines on the pickleball courts have been redone.

He said that with the changes, they hope to attract more members and young people to the center.

They will be incorporating new logos and merchandise along with their more modern name and new color scheme, Smith said.

“It will be the same rec center, just amped up times two,” Smith said. “I like to do things big. I don’t want to be catching up to the beach, I want to be the standard for Park and Rec departments in the state. We’re taking a step forward, doing a lot with our fields and soccer complex. We want to be the best. You’ve got to step out there.”

While the facility was closed due to COVID-19, the staff took the opportunity to deep clean and rearrange the equipment to create a safe environment.

Smith said that equipment is spaced out throughout the center in different rooms to aid in social distancing, and employees will be walking through with carts able to sanitize as needed.

The facility will close each day between noon and 1 p.m. in order to deep clean.

“We want our citizens to feel safe,” Smith said. “We want everyone to feel comfortable … I would bring my own wife and kids.”

He said they hope to resume group fitness classes the week after re-opening, in outdoor locations.

“We’ll be putting them in different locations, locations that are safe,” said Aquatics Director June Wood, saying that personal training sessions will also be moved outdoors and they hope to send people to the city’s parks.

“It will highlight some awesome parts of the city,” she said.

Wood said they have also added more sanitizing stations.

“We’ve always had sanitizer and wipes available, but we have tripled amount we will have,” Wood said, adding that there will also be staff available to help members properly clean the equipment if they need help.

In a press release Friday, the city said that basketball and pickleball courts will not be available for play since they can’t meet physical distancing requirements, and water fountains and complimentary coffee stations will be suspended until further notice.

While restrooms will be available, the city said that locker rooms and showers will not be available.

“While in the facility, physical distancing is of utmost importance and will be enforced by staff. We do encourage you to wear a face mask when utilizing the facility,” the release said.

Temperatures will be monitored upon entrance to the facility, and to gain entry their temperature must be below 100.4 – anyone who is not feeling well should stay home.

Current members will not see a membership fee for the month of June, and daily rates will be available to those who wish to use the facility and arenot currently members.

The public is invited to visit the facility on Thursday, May 28 from 4 – 6 p.m. for individual tours with a staff member.

Wood and Smith both want the public to know that the center is not just for recreational, seasonal sports, and Wood said Smith’s first year at the center has been a good one.

“His direction has been really great for being able to bring in athletics and fitness and make it one,” she said.

The facility hours will be as follows:

Mon-Fri 6 a.m. – 12 p.m., 1 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Saturday – 8 a.m. – 12 p.m., 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Sunday – closed

“We are excited to welcome back our residents and members to a beautifully revamped facility. Our top priority remains the safety and wellness of our members and staff. While our name has changed, you will continue to experience the same great service,” the city said.

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