TRI Center turns weight room into teen center


An exterior shot of the future teen center to be run by the Oxford Parks and Recreation Department at the Talawanda Recreational Inc. (TRI) site on Fairfield Road. Now under construction, the center is expected to be operational by February. Photo by Abby Jeffrey

By AbJeffrey

Oxford’s Parks and Recreation Department is transforming the upstairs women’s weight room at the Talawanda Recreation Incorporated (TRI) Center into a teen center.

The center, 6025 Fairfield Road, is adjacent to the site of the old Oxford Community Pool.

Casey Wooddell, director of Oxford Parks and Recreation, explained what is envisioned for the teen center.

“By teen center, we mean a place where kids can go after school on weekends and is both a safe and enjoyable place to go and hang out with friends,” he said. “There will be study tables, T.V.s,  and video games.” 

The goal is for the teen center to be open and operational by the end of February, Wooddell said.

Phase I has already been completed. Weight equipment was removed from the space. According Wooddell, the town received donations from around the community. Donors then took the weight equipment home. The donations for the weights are being put toward the renovations, he said.

According to Wooddell, Phase II is almost complete. It has mostly consisted of updating and upgrading the electrical and lighting to make it more functional. More outlets have been installed and lights have been updated with LED lighting.

Wooddell says that Phase III may start this week. It includes putting up walls, redoing the floor and new paint.

To pay for the project, $4,000 has been given in grants from two local organizations. The Oxford Community Foundation gave $2,500 and Butler Rural Electric contributed $1,500. Wooddell said the grant money will be spent on furniture, study tables, artwork and gaming systems. The other updates are not covered by grant money.

“The interior renovations do not have an exact dollar figure allocated, but will likely be an additional $3,000 to $5,000,” says Wooddell.

All updates to the interior structure have to be approved by Talawanda Recreation Incorporated, as it owns the building and leases it to the Parks and Recreation Department.

The discussion to change the weight room into a teen center began in 2018. Long ago, before the weight center, the same space was used as a game room.

“The weight room has not averaged enough uses per week to justify giving it its own space,” said Wooddell. “And we wanted to figure out how to best use the space. We’ve seen these teens centers in other locations and it seems pretty successful and safe.” 

According to Wooddell, the overall response to the project has been positive.

“There is excitement from parents to see there be a place for their kids to go,” said Wooddell. “It will be very basic in the beginning, but long term it would be a really cool goal to have a coffee bar or snack room.”

Wooddell said when the teen center is complete, the hours will most likely follow the department’s building hours. During the school year the center would be open 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

“When summer hits the hours will be different,” said Wooddell. “That will be determined when we see what kind of usage we are getting.”

Access to the teen center will be included in the annual dues to the TRI Community Center. Annual membership dues are $6 for ages 10 through 17 and $12 for ages 18 and up.

For more information on the project, contact the Oxford Parks and Recreation Department.