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 voters on Election Day, April 7, 1953, agreed to 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 City of Emporia commissioners and USD #253 board members and appointees by each of those two entities. Revenues for recreation programs are derived from tax properties within the school district.

Emporia Recreation Center Outside view

ERC’s Location

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 was built in 1953. Jim Peterson served 8 years as the first director from 1953 until 1961. Then, Lee Beran served 38 years from 1961 until 1999, and currently, Tom McEvoy. In 2000, the building was renamed to the Lee Beran Recreation Center and Lee continued to dedicate his time to Emporia and the Recreation Field after his retirement until his passing in 2019. 

The building we know today as the Lee Beran Recreation Center was actually built in 3 Phases.

Phases of Construction

  • 1977 - Phase 1
    • Bookkeeper
    • Director
    • Game Room
    • Main Office
    • Maintenance
    • Restrooms
    • Social Hall
  • 1983 - Phase 2
    • Aquatics Office
    • Indoor Pool
    • Locker Rooms
    • Racquetball Courts
  • 1993 - Phase 3
    • Gymnasium
    • Upstairs Storage
  • 1999 
    • Fitness Room
    • Walking Track

Additional Facilities 

  • 1960 - ERC Director Jim Peterson created Camp Wilson as a day camp for the children of Emporia.
  • 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 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. It features a lighted skating area for the youth.
  • 2002 -Jones Aquatic Center located Northwest of Emporia on 18th Avenue (across from DeBauge Family Sports Complex). 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 - DeBauge Family Sports Complex (formerly Twin Rivers Youth Soccer Association-TRYSA) located Northwest of Emporia on 18th Avenue (across from Jones Aquatic Center.)

Program Facilities

The Recreation Commission employs a Director of Recreation who offices in the Emporia Recreation Center facility at 4th Avenue. In addition to programs housed in the Recreation Center, there are additional programs that occur on city-owned facilities located in the park system as well as in various school facilities under the direction of the school district.

Baseball & Softball Parks

Find more information about the baseball and softball parks used by the Emporia Recreation Center.