Boxing club finds a home in rec center expansion

Come January, local amateur boxers will finally have a place to call home.

Framework is already up on a 40-by-70-foot building the Neosho Parks and Recreation Department is constructing on the west side of the city rec center, next to the tennis courts.

When completed, the structure will give the city-sponsored Neosho Boxing Club somewhere its members can workout, spar and hold matches.

The club has had to use whatever room was available at the rec center, parks and rec director Tom Workman said. Last winter, the only space was at the city pool area.

But with the new lighted, heated building, those days will be gone.

"I'm very excited about it," said Gary Clark, boxing club coach and a former pugilist himself. "It will basically be home for us, for the boxing club. It's been a number of years I've been trying to get that, and it's finally happening."

The club, which accepts anyone age 8 and older, plans to host its first tournament at the new building sometime in late winter.

While the club will occupy most of the north side of the building, that isn't the structure's primary purpose, Workman said.

The rest of the building will be used for badly needed storage space, which is really the reason for its construction in the first place, Workman said.

"We have no storage whatsoever," he said. "Basically, every building that we had been storing in has been torn down or was in the flood plain and had to be moved, and we've just slowly ran out of storage space."

As a result, the parks and rec department keeps its equipment in scattered locations about town. Sports gear is put in whatever corner space or room that can be cleared out at the rec center or elsewhere. Chemicals are kept in a garden storage shed. Park maintenance equipment - lawnmowers, weed-eaters, etc - are stored at the city public works building on College Street.

"At the end of the shift, when we clean out our trucks, we have to take it all over to public works, and then the first thing the next morning we go down there and load it all back up again," Workman said. "So we're going to try to make it a little more time-efficient for us by getting everything consolidated and getting it back into one place."

The construction was budgeted for this year in the department's capital improvements fund, Workman said. To save money, it is being built using city crews, though Workman said some of the sub-work might be contracted out to professionals. Even so, the HVAC system was salvaged from the recently demolished clubhouse building at the golf course. That and the plumbing and electrical work is the next to be installed in the new building, followed by exterior walls, sheetrock and roofing.

Workman has targeted Jan. 1 as the move-in date. He said his department employees have had their hands full recently with decorating the parks for the Christmas holiday, but said construction efforts on the storage/boxing club building are about to go into full-throttle again.

"It's a good thing," Workman said. "We've needed it for a long time. You never have enough room is seems like. We've been trying to do better about having surplus auction to eliminate things we don't use, but there are things we use on a regular basis that we just don't have enough storage space for.

"I'm excited that (the new building) will free up a couple of rooms at the rec center and we'll be able to eliminate a lot of our stuff we have in different areas. And time-wise, it will be a time-saving measure for us to be able to just slip out the back door, grab our stuff and go. I'm looking forward to it. It's something we've needed for a long time."

Neosho Daily News