Glencoe, News

What’s Watts? 60-year-old Glencoe rec center gets new name

With a $6 million renovation, Glencoe’s Watts Center is undergoing substantial changes. A recent Glencoe Park Board decision ensured another substantial change.

During their Oct. 17 meeting, commissioners OK’d a name change to the 64-year-old recreation building, which is now the Weinberg Family Recreation Center, 305 Randolph Road.

The change honors former Commissioner Jack Weinberg and his wife, Sheila Weinberg, who received naming rights in concert with their $600,000 donation. According to the approved agreement, the gift from the Jack A. and Sheila A. Weinberg Family Foundation will be delivered in equal payments of $120,000 in November of each of the next five years.

“The board is grateful for this donation that will support the sustainability of our recreation center,” said Carol Spain, the Glencoe Park District Board president, in a statement. “The Weinberg Family Recreation Center will continue to be a place where families gather for recreational activities, and where the community comes together to create lasting memories.”

Watts Recreation Center was built in 1959 as the Glencoe Park District’s lone recreation space. In 1972, a refrigerated outdoor ice rink was installed and became the center’s primary attraction.

The center now has two outdoor rinks that are are supported by indoor services, such as skate rental and storage.

A rendering of the exterior of the renovations for Watts.

The renovation project, which broke ground in April, includes upgrades to the indoor ice-support facility, the addition of a multipurpose room, new restrooms and storage areas, and a reworking of “inaccessible” space to support more programming. Improvements also include an elevator to meet ADA standards.

A $2.5-million grant from the state — the largest ever for the Glencoe Park District — is subsidizing the work, which will also utilize park district reserves and borrowing ($2 million in bond sales executed in 2020), according to park officials.

According to park district documents, Jack Weinberg was a park commissioner for seven years and has been a Glencoe parks supporter for much longer than that.

“Throughout his tenure, Jack Weinberg led crucial community capital and referendum campaigns that have been instrumental in supporting renovations to both the Takiff Center and Watts Center, improving the quality of life for residents and enhancing the recreational offerings in the Glencoe community,” Executive Director Lisa Sheppard said in a press release. “His outstanding work has ensured that these facilities remain exceptional places for all to enjoy.”

The park district hopes a newly renovated Weinberg Family Recreation Center will reopen by Nov. 24 and it will host a renaming ceremony from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Dec. 9 at the facility.

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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