Southern Recreation Center Has Grand Opening

The City of Palm Coast held a successful grand opening of the highly anticipated Southern Recreation Center and new Lehigh Trailhead on Friday, February 23, from 4 to 7:30 PM, drawing in hundreds of excited residents who gathered to celebrate and explore the new facilities.
The event marked a significant milestone for the community, as these recreational amenities have been in the works since 2017 as part of the City Council’s Strategic Action Plan priorities. City staff expressed immense joy and satisfaction at the realization of this long-awaited project.
City of Palm Coast Assistant City Manager Lauren Johnston opened the ceremony by welcoming guests and sharing her personal connection to this project. She shared, “For me personally, this moment holds a special significance. Having served as the Director of Parks and Recreation during the early stages of this project, seeing it come to fruition today is nothing short of a dream realized. These spaces hold a special place in my heart, and I am profoundly proud to witness their opening.”
She went on to thank the many organizations that allowed this project to come to fruition. “I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to express our appreciation to the Palm Coast City Council, the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners, the Flagler County Tourist Development Council, the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Power and Light, and Friends of Tennis. Your belief in our vision and your commitment to our community has been instrumental in making these projects a reality.”
Mayor David Alfin then spoke about the rich sports history the City of Palm Coast is proud of and how this new destination will further enhance the community experience. He said, “Today is one of those landmark occasions that residents of Palm Coast will remember forever. As the proud mayor of this City, I welcome all of you to experience your awesome new Southern Recreation Center and Lehigh Trailhead. You’ll find this facility to be the ultimate space to play, learn, de-stress, and connect.”
He concluded his comments by sharing a quote. “I’d like to conclude my address with this quote: ‘Community recreation centers are vital third spaces. They’re not work, they’re not home. They’re amazing places where groups of people can learn, de-stress, and connect.’ Tonight, let’s dedicate this Southern Recreation Center as your Third Space in Palm Coast. A trio of life’s fulfillments.”

Flagler County Board of County Commissioners Chair Andy Dance, who also serves as Chair of the Flagler County Tourist Development Council, spoke briefly as the rain began to fall about these incredible recreational amenities and his personal use of the trail system as an avid bicyclist.

Unfortunately, due to poor weather, scheduled speeches from the architect for the Southern Recreation Center, Sam Elsheikh with OLC, contractor Ty Bliss with Gilbane, and Paul Culver with Culver Construction were unable to proceed as attendees were welcomed indoors.

Attendees had the opportunity to tour the state-of-the-art Southern Recreation Center, which merges the existing tennis center with twelve pickleball courts, six of which are covered for year-round use. The facility also includes public access to 2 multi-purpose rooms, lobby space, exterior patios and balconies, and locker rooms with showers. Concession services will be provided by Redefined Food Company beginning in March, and samples were offered at the grand opening.

Despite the poor weather, attendees also got their first look at the new Lehigh Trailhead, which includes ADA-compliant paved parking lot with over 70 new spaces, a restroom building, community gardens with six ADA plots and 12 standard plots, a large and small dog park, and enhanced lighting, utilities, pavilions, benches, and sidewalks.

“The grand opening of the Southern Recreation Center and new Lehigh Trailhead signifies a significant achievement for our community,” said Mayor Alfin. “These facilities will not only enhance the quality of life for our residents but also promote health, wellness, and outdoor recreation opportunities for all.”

As of Saturday, February 24, 2024, both the Southern Recreation Center and Lehigh Trailhead are officially open to the public, inviting residents to enjoy and benefit from these valuable additions to the city’s recreational infrastructure.