The city's parks and recreation department is working to stay abreast of a growing population that has diverse interests.
The Lawrence Parks and Recreation department has plenty to keep residents busy, whether their pastimes are bridge or roller hockey.
The city has 35 parks, three recreation centers, an adult sports complex and a new golf course. In the works are a nature center, a 50-meter swimming pool and a skate park.
``We just want people to use their parks,'' said Fred DeVictor, director of parks and recreation.
To that end, the department works with a variety of groups to provide many uses for parks. There is a BMX track in Edgewood Park, a roller hockey rink in Deerfield Park and fishing at Mary's Lake. The city offers sports league play throughout the year.
The city is looking to keep up with growth, both by meeting citizens' recreation demands and buying enough park land, DeVictor said.
``We're always looking for park land,'' he said.
Right now, the city has several tracts set aside for parks that are not yet developed, trying to keep up with Lawrence's booming population.
There should be a few additions to the parks in the next few years, DeVictor said. A nature center is planned to open next spring at Lawrence Prairie Park and Mary's Lake.
``We'll be able to get into the outdoor education and interpretative stuff more than ever,'' he said. ``We're excited about this because it will get us into a whole new program area.''
The site includes seven to eight acres of virgin prairie that scientists have said contain more than 180 different species.
The city is also planning a skate park in Centennial Park. Since roller skates and skate boards have been banned from downtown, DeVictor said, it will give skate boarders a place to ride. The park should open this fall.
A new 50-meter swimming pool is also in the works. The pool, which could open within a year and a half, will be at Free State High School, 4701 Overland Dr.
The city opened its new golf course, Eagle Bend Golf Course and Golf Learning Center, during the summer. The front nine holes opened July 20, and the back nine opened in early September.
In addition to 18 holes, the course includes practice holes, a putting green, a chipping green and a large driving range. The golf course has golf pros available for private lessons, but the city will also offer group lessons through recreation instruction.
``We have lots of classes,'' Recreation Superintendent Kathy Fode said as she flipped through the fall activities handbook.
There are classes and activities for every interest, from scuba diving to bridge.
Recreation opportunities are divided into classes, youth and adult sports, special populations and special events. Fode said some classes are cosponsored by other organizations, such as the Lawrence Arts Center or Douglas County Senior Services, so ``we're not duplicating each other.''
The top classes are fitness classes, Fode said.
``Two of our most popular classes are water aerobics and water walking,'' Fode said.
The next round of classes kicks off this week, Fode said.
Handbooks listing the fall recreation offerings are available at the recreation centers, city hall, the Lawrence Public Library, the Lawrence Visitors Information Center, the Chamber of Commerce, Douglas County Senior Services and the Lawrence Arts Center.
-- Felicia Haynes' phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.