EMPORIA RECREATION COMMISSION HISTORY
Emporia Recreation Commission was established in 1953. An ordinance was published in the Emporia Daily Gazette on May 21, 1953, which provided for the establishment, maintenance and conduct of a supervised recreation system and establishing a commission, which was empowered to administer the system. A majority of those voting in an election on April 7, 1953, said they did adopt the proposition to establish a supervised recreation system as provided in the Kansas Statutes under Article 19 of Chapter 12. By statute, members of the Recreation Commission consist of members of the city commission and school district and appointees by each of those two entities. Revenues for recreation programs and derived form a tax properties within the school district. The Recreation Commission employs a Director of Recreation who is housed in Recreation Center. In addition to programs in the Recreation Center, other programs occur on city-owned facilities located in the park system and in various school facilities under the direction of the school district. For 24 years the recreation center was located at the corner of 5th and Merchant. Today, the Recreation Center is located on 4th street between State and Congress. The Recreation Center has had only three directors since it’s existence. Jim Peterson served 8 years, as the first director from 1953 – 1961 next; Lee Beran served 38 years from 1961 – 1999, and the current director Tom McEvoy. In 2000 the building was renamed to the Lee Beran Recreation Center. Lee continues to dedicate his time to Emporia and the Recreation Field. The building was built in 3 Phases the following is a list of dates the construction was completed. 1977 Phase 1 – Social Hall, Game Room, Maintenance, Restrooms, Director, Bookkeeper, and Main Office.
1983 Phase 2 – Indoor Pool, Locker Rooms. Racquetball Courts, and Aquatic’s Office
1993 Phase 3 – Gymnasium and Upstairs Storage
1999 Fitness Room and Walking Track
OTHER FACILITIES OPERATED BY THE EMPORIA RECREATION COMMISSION
1992 -Trusler Sports Complex located Northeast of Emporia on 18th Avenue. Home of the Emporia State University baseball and softball teams, and Emporia Recreation adult summer softball leagues and tournaments. The complex features 3-lighted 300-foot softball fields and one lighted collegiate size baseball field.
2000 -Skate Board and Bicycle Park located at South Avenue and West Street was constructed and built by the City of Emporia from a donation by the Flinthills Optimist. The park is open 7 days a week from 8am – 10pm it features a lighted skating area for the youth.
2002 -Jones Aquatic Center located Northwest of Emporia on 18th Avenue (across from TRYSA). The 5.6 million dollar pool features, a lazy river, 2 waterslides, a toddler water playground, a Olympic size main pool, a concession area, and a sand volleyball court.
2011 -TRYSA Soccer Complex located Northwest of Emporia on 18th Avenue (across from Jones Aquatic Center.)
HISTORY – 1960 ERC Director Jim Peterson created Camp Wilson as a Day Camp for the children of Emporia.
BASEBALL AND SOFTBALL PARKS
Soden’s Grove Park – A 30 Acre Park that features the zoo, miniature train, 1-lighted baseball field, and a shelter house. Soden’s baseball field is home to the Emporia High baseball team, Host of the 1-2A High School State Baseball Championships, and Legion Baseball during the summer. In 2013, the playing field was completely renovated and artificial turf was installed.
Whitter Park – A 13 Acre Park that features 2 lighted softball fields and a T-ball complex. The City of Emporia and Emporia Recreation Commission completed recent upgrades to the field and dugouts in 2002. One softball field is home to the Emporia High School softball team. Both fieldsand the T-ball complex are used during the summer for youth leagues and T-ball games.
Peter Pan Park – A 51.7 Acre Park that features a lake, Playground, 2 tennis courts, Spanish War Veteran’s memorial, Amphitheater, boathouse, horseshoe pits, wading pool, William Allen White memorial, grape arbor, and 2 lighted softball fields which are used for youth summer softball leagues and weekend tournaments.
Santa Fe Park – A 12 Acre Park that features the skate board park, 2 youth baseball fields for summer league and for adult softball on weekends, and 1 flag football field. In 2013, the outfield was re-leveled to improve drainage, and the infield surface was improved.