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Raymond W. Jones Community Center opens in John Hunt Park

Published on February 29, 2024

line of people behind a blue ribbon. a person with large scissors is cutting the ribbon, in front of a building

John Hunt Park welcomed its newest facility with great fanfare following a ribbon-cutting and open house celebration at the Raymond W. Jones Community Center.

Once home to the National Guard Armory, the City of Huntsville acquired the 14,000-square-foot building after it closed in 2017. At that time, Parks & Recreation was working on a master plan and build-out for John Hunt Park. They were also managing increased demand for senior programming, particularly for those with Parkinson’s disease.

“The opportunity presented itself, and we jumped,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “We found a great space to house the growing Rock Steady Boxing Parkinson’s classes and more room for recreation offices in John Hunt Park.”

In fall 2022, the City of Huntsville embarked on a $6.4 million renovation to transform the armory into the Raymond W. Jones Community Center. The state previously named the facility in Jones’ honor, recognizing his service in World War II and his leadership role in establishing Huntsville’s first National Guard unit.

Renovations included a new roof, HVAC system, plumbing, upgraded electrical systems, windows, LED lighting and finishes. The building’s façade was upgraded and the parking lot expanded to accommodate more vehicles and ADA-accessible spaces.

Located near the Steve Hettinger Drive entrance on the east side of John Hunt Park, the community center is already receiving rave reviews.

“We could not have designed a better location for this facility in the park,” said Parks & Recreation Director James Gossett. “This facility will allow us to better serve the numerous amenities and tournaments happening weekly across John Hunt Park. It also allows us to meet a critical need for our senior population with a facility designed to better serve their programs.”

For the Parkinson’s Dynamics organization, the center has exceeded their expectations.

“The Parkinson’s community is thrilled to have this new state-of-the-art facility,” Carolyn Rhodes, Rock Steady Parkinson’s Dynamics president said. “It means so

much to them to have the city’s support as they are fighting this neurodegenerative disease.”

Funding for the project largely came through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) program, with the City providing the remaining funds through its capital budget.