Park House put to use

MANCHESTER - Spring programming for the Manchester Rec Park is underway and with the addition of a brand new, state-of-the-art Park House, more activities will be available.

Part of the new Park House that will provide ample opportunities for different types of programming is the activity room, located at the north end of the building. With a flat-screen television, provided by the Lions club, a Nintendo Wii, and a fire place, the activity room is expected to offer fitness as well as educational activities.

"We want to provide fitness classes, educational activities - you name it," said Parks and Recreation Director Liz Ambuhl. "We want this to be a place where people can come and do something fun and enjoyable."

One of those educational programs is the Dinosaur Fossils Presentation that is aimed at children ages six to 10 and will provide them with the opportunity to learn more about dinosaurs in a large enough area for a group to gather and discuss.

Also coming up this Saturday, March 30 is the annual Easter egg hunt which will be the first event based there since the Park House was built. Along with the regular programs like swim lessons and the horsemanship camp, new programs already on the docket include Beginning Fitness for Adults, Zumba Fitness and Aqua Zumba, Summer Solstice Street Fest to celebrate the completion of the roundabout, and NexusNow Group which allows for networking opportunities with a group of 23 to 35 year olds.

"We are trying to create a place where all ages can come and have something to do," said Kate McClafferty, programming director. "And we are still trying to come up with more programs."

One benefit of the Park House is that they can schedule programming in the evening, to allow for activities to go on later in the day, after people get out of work.

"That is one of the great aspects of this building," said Ambuhl. "It gives so many opportunities to do different programs and we are just so excited." This year will also be the second year of "Restaurant Week" as the new Park House will play host to a launch party for the event. Berta Maginniss, executive director of the Manchester and the Mountains Chamber of Commerce, said that they decided to choose the Park House for a launch party because of the usefulness of the activity room and to raise some awareness that the Park House is now being used.

"The launch party, we hope, will be a preview of the nine restaurants that are going to participate. Those restaurants will bring samples of whatever they would like to that night so we hope the local community will come out and get excited about restaurant week," she said.

Occurring from April 22, when the launch party will take place, to May 5 people can enjoy a three course lunch or dinner for relatively cheap prices at the nine restaurants that include Bistro Henry, Brasserie L'Oustau de Provence, Dorset Inn, Garlic John's, Gringo Jack's, Wilburton Inn, The Perfect Wife, Mio Bistro, and the Inn at West View Farm.

There are sure to be more opportunities once the residents of Manchester start to become more involved with the Park House and the new programming that will be provided.

"The thing is there are so many more opportunities for activities and programming that we don't even know what they could be yet, there are just so many," said Ambuhl.

Town Manager of Manchester, John O'Keefe, is also very excited about what the new Park House has to offer. O'Keefe said in a previous interview that the Park House will eventually bring many people to the Rec Park because of the diversity the building brings.

O'Keefe said he has drawn interest for a Nintendo Wii bowling tournament between the residents of Equinox Terrace and the younger generation at the Manchester Elementary Middle School.

"It would be a great way to get those two generations to be able to connect," he said. "It's programs like that that get me really excited." O'Keefe said that there is still no set date for a grand opening of the Park House, but that it will probably come sometime in the first couple weeks of April.


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