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As a child, Wray Wade would jog between his house and Broughton Recreation Center so he could spend time at “The Rec” shooting hoops, hanging out and being
with community.

Growing up at the corner
of Young Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Wade lived just down the street from Broughton. He recalls attending the grand opening celebration for the recreation center, which was built in 1978 and opened
in 1979. 

“I loved playing basketball. I would come here so much. There was a gentleman,
Mr. Rodney Carroll, who worked here. I would sweep the floors and hang out
here just so I could play
basketball,” Wade recalled. “This place means the
world to me.”

For Wade, life has now
come full circle. Broughton Recreation Center celebrated
a new grand opening in 2022. Its renovation and expansion were among the latest voter-approved bond projects to be completed in the last year.

City of Longview Continues to Improve with Vision.

“I’m happy that I can come back here, be a member of the Longview City Council, and also be a part of the redevelopment of Broughton Recreation Center,” said Wade, who now serves as the District 3 Representative on the City Council. “It’s very special. It feels really good to know that this community will be able to have something like this.”

In 2018, City of Longview voters approved a $104.2 million bond package that includes new construction and renovation of public safety facilities, streets and infrastructure, and parks. The city has been working to complete all facets of the bond with some work already completed and more projects in the works for 2023.

In 2022, the reopening of Broughton Recreation Center served as one of the biggest highlights of the year and for good reason. Since its opening in 1979, Broughton Recreation Center has served as a community hub in South Longview. From festivities surrounding events like Juneteenth and Martin Luther King Jr. Day to serving as the home of community leagues, a branch of the Longview Public Library, and meeting space, it has been
integral to South Longview.

“Broughton’s been a special place for a long time,” said Scott Caron, who serves as the director of Parks and Recreation for the city. “We wanted to be respectful of that, but it needed to be modernized. It needed to be brought up to the efficiencies and the standards of what we expect today.”

The process of updating Broughton dates back to when the city created its Comprehensive Plan, which in turn helped guide the city in developing the 2018 bond package. The Comprehensive Plan was compiled after numerous public meetings open to residents as well as community surveys regarding residents’ top priorities for Longview. After the bond passed, Caron said, the city approached the Broughton Recreation Center project with a few goals in mind.

“No. 1, we wanted to make it accessible and accommodating and aesthetically
pleasing and inviting. That was one of the main things. We wanted to provide some natural light within the facility,” Caron said. “We also wanted it to be active. We wanted to provide an opportunity for folks to exercise.”

When the original building was constructed in 1978, Broughton was 15,000 square feet. Today, after the city’s $5 million renovation and expansion, the size has about doubled.

The new addition includes a full-size gymnasium and the library’s branch
location. The library’s branch was previously
located near the back of the recreation center. Today, it has a prominent location near the entrance. There’s also a new fitness area with cardio equipment set behind large glass windows that face MLK Jr. Boulevard.

“It’s a bright and beautiful space,” Caron said.

The existing facility also received a renovation that included adding windows to the meeting rooms where previously there were none and renovating the older gymnasium to accommodate larger events. The city kept the game room at Broughton and updated it. There’s also another fitness area.

“Probably one of the most exciting parts of the new facility is we have an e-sports gaming room. We have six computer stations, large video screen, couches. It’s not just a great social space but it’s also an environment to be able to teach some of the gaming stuff, like coding, that’s interesting to kids.”

The new Broughton has a lot of natural window lighting and touches of Lobo green throughout to make it feel familiar and inviting.

Like a second home.

It’s just that for familiar faces, like Will Reese, who can be found at Broughton nearly every day. Reese attended the original grand opening in the late ’70s and
continues to come to Broughton frequently. He primarily got a membership to use the weight room. The new one, he said with a smile, is “much” better than the old weight room. “Before it was like you had a closet for a weight room. Now, it’s really nice. The whole place is really nice,” he said. “It has spaces for other events. I’m just happy to see that they finally did something here.” Reese said he was “surprised” when he first walked into the newly renovated facility.
He was surprised at its modernness. It was an update that the South Longview community needed.

“It’s just awesome,” he said. “I’m really happy with what they did.”

District 2 Councilwoman Nona Snoddy said she was “in awe” at the new and improved Broughton. Snoddy used to work at Broughton. It was her first job out of college and she later became the recreation center’s supervisor.

“To be able to see this transformation has been outstanding. When I first walked into the facility, just to see what had been done, I was in awe at how beautiful it truly is,” Snoddy said. “The community is going to be somewhat amazed, and I hope they utilize it to the fullest.”

Caron said the special touches, like the Lobo green and the improved natural lighting, are intended to help make the facility feel more like a hub.

“It was built for the citizens of Longview, but in particular for the citizens of South Longview,” Wade said. “When I walked in here, it really felt like you were walking into a really special place. It’s a really beautiful facility.”

Membership at Broughton is open to
anyone. The rate is $11 per month for youth and $15 per month for adults. 

While Broughton Recreation Center’s reopening was certainly a highlight of 2022, it was far from the only city project to be completed last year.

Other parks work included completing green and the improved natural lighting, are intended to help make the facility feel more like a hub.

“It was built for the citizens of Longview, but in particular for the citizens of South Longview,” Wade said. “When I walked in here, it really felt like you were walking into a really special place. It’s a really beautiful facility.”

Membership at Broughton is open to anyone. The rate is $11 per month for youth and $15 per month for adults. 

While Broughton Recreation Center’s reopening was certainly a highlight of 2022, it was far from the only city project to be completed last year.

Other parks work included completing projects at five parks – McWhorter, Lois Jackson, Spring Creek, Patterson, and Womack/Stamper, Caron said.

“Going back to the Comprehensive Plan and Parks Master Plan, what we wanted to do on each of them was to reinvigorate them,” he said. “They’re each wonderful parks that are highly utilized and visible.”

Work has included new playgrounds, pavilions, and a variety of amenities tailored to each park based on the needs of the community. Womack, for example, is heavily used for little league football, so its football fields were renovated.

Two additional parks – Spring Hill and Rollins – are in the stage of concept and design plans with work anticipated in 2023. Spring Hill is slated to receive a new splash pad, while Rollins is being geared up for a new playground. Meanwhile, another project will be developed at McWhorter in a different area of the park.

As many of the city’s park projects begin to wrap up, Caron said he’s looking to update the Parks Master Plan to assess new needs.

Outside of parks, the City of Longview also made significant progress in its public safety and streets projects.

“The largest single item that voters approved in the bond and the most visible progress that has happened in 2022 is the ongoing construction of the Longview Police Department building,” said Richard Yeakley, public information officer for the city. “If you drive down South Street, you see how beautiful it is and that it’s clearly coming along. It really has taken shape in 2022. We’re excited for it to open in spring of 2023.”

The $33.4 million bond project to replace the existing Longview Police Department will allow the facility to expand to accommodate growth for the next 35 years.

The existing facility was built in 1977 when the department had 82 employees. In 2018, when voters approved the bond election, the police department had 234 employees working in the 31,000-square-foot building. Over the years, closet and storage areas were converted into office spaces, and the city has been forced to rent out additional buildings to accommodate the police force.

The new police station will be a three-story, 68,412-square-foot facility that will feature a larger space for dispatch services, evidence storage, patrol offices, more conference rooms, office space, an
investigations division and an exercise room. It is being designed to accommodate staffing growth of up to 296 employees.

Yeakley said supply chain issues slightly delayed the planned completion, but it is anticipated to open in the spring of 2023. He praised the city’s Public Works department for stepping up to help resolve some issues that could have significantly delayed progress.

One of the supply chain issues involved the electrical panels that power the whole building. The city had ordered three permanent panels, he said, and when they were delayed, Public Works came up with a solution.

“Public Works figured out how to put together a temporary solution, which has allowed the building to have power, to have AC, to have lights so that crews could be in there doing the work to finish it out even as we wait on the permanent panels,” he said. “So instead of having to sit and pause for months and months… we’ve been able to make progress as we’ve been waiting on those pieces to arrive.”

For the Longview Fire Department, the city fully completed the renovation and expansion of Fire Station No. 5 in West Longview.

Originally built in 1985, the renovation and expansion of Fire Station No. 5 included constructing 10,208 square feet of new space and renovating 5,373 square feet of the existing station. It includes three new bays, as well as a new kitchen, living space and bunk rooms for employees.

In 2022, the city also broke ground on the new Fire Station No. 8 in North Longview. Currently located on McCann Road near Fellowship Bible Church, the fire station will move to George Richey Road near the new development of Gap and Dollar General. When completed, the new Fire Station
No. 8 will feature 9,102 square feet of space including three bays.

“For drivers along George Richey and in North Longview, they’ll see that go up in 2023,” Yeakley said.

The city also is in the design planning phase for Fire Station No. 7, which will replace the existing facility on Gilmer Road with a newly constructed facility on the same property. Originally built in 1971, Fire Station No. 7 currently has 3,800 square feet of space and two bays. The proposed facility will have 9,102 square feet and three bays.

In the area of streets and infrastructure, the city also made significant progress. In South Longview, the High/Mobberly/Estes intersection reconfiguration began to take shape while in North Longview, the Fairmont Street reconstruction saw completion.

“The redesign of the Mobberly, High and Estes intersection near Komatsu and near LeTourneau University is something we’re very excited about,” Yeakley said. “That intersection was always confusing. There were roads going everywhere. It was dangerous for traffic and it also wasn’t inviting for our community. It’s going to be incredible to see the finished work there.”

Not only will the traffic flow be cleaned up, but a new entryway feature will also greet visitors to Longview.

“It will let them know they’re in Longview, that they’re welcomed, and it will give them a sense of place,” Yeakley said.

In North Longview, the Fairmont Street reconstruction included reconstructing the existing three lanes of Fairmont Street between Avenue B and H.G. Mosley Parkway, utility work, adding drainage, bike lanes and sidewalks. The road reopened to drivers in November 2022.

Next up, the city will begin work on the Mobberly Complete Street project, which will include adding sidewalks and bike lanes to Mobberly Avenue to make it more pedestrian and biker friendly. The work is slated to begin in 2023 and will take until about the end of 2024 to complete.

“That will extend the progress we’ve seen at that (the High/Mobberly/Estes) intersection all the way up Mobberly Avenue to downtown. It will really give great connectivity for all of the folks living south of U.S. 80 up this main corridor through the Arts!Longview Cultural District all the way to downtown – to the city center – with bike lanes, walkways, and new traffic lighting so the vehicles can move smoothly.”

In 2022, voters again showed their support to the City of Longview and especially to first responders. In May 2022, voters approved a $45.6 million bond election to a $45.6 million bond election to stabilize the Longview Firemen’s Relief and Retirement Fund.

“We spoke with experts who advised that this type of investment in our fire pension program would stabilize it and save money in the long run for the city,” Yeakley said. “We’re appreciative of the way that our residents support the city and, in particular, support the first responders who are the ones who show up whenever the citizens need help. Voters came out and overwhelmingly voted to approve the fire pension bond.”

Also in 2022, the city saw an organizational shift as City Manager Rolin McPhee took over for retiring City Manager Keith Bonds. Additionally, Longview Police Department saw Chief Anthony Boone step forward after Mike Bishop retired. Shortly after taking office, Boone started a campaign called “Pump the Brakes” aimed at reducing speeding, red light violations and racing on major roadways in town.

“Chief Boone had a clear vision of that issue and a clear desire to address it. He has really put procedures in place in the police department to be vigilant on that, and I think our residents really appreciate that,” Yeakley said. 

Throughout many projects, Yeakley said the city is overwhelmingly appreciative of its residents for their support for the city in general, showing their support by approving bond issues, and for their understanding as construction takes place.

“We know that progress can take time and that progress can also cause short-term inconveniences. Our residents have been really understanding as we’ve had to tear up roads or as we’ve had to construct new police departments. They appreciate what it will be, and they support us in the work that needs to be done,” Yeakley said. “We’re appreciative of the way our residents respond to things like street closures. No one wants their commute to work to include a street closure, but long term, residents have said this is what they want for our community. We think we’re beginning to see the dividends of the 2018 bond really come to focus in 2022, and we’ll see that even more in 2023.”