The Longview City Council on Thursday awarded a $5.4 million contract to RLM Enterprises for renovations and upgrades to Broughton Recreation Center.

The Longview City Council on Thursday awarded a $5.4 million contract to RLM General Contractors for renovations and upgrades to Broughton Recreation Center and Park. Members also paved the way for a new Starbucks with a drive-thru on Gilmer Road.

Parks and Recreation Director Scott Caron said the improvements at Broughton on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which are funded by the 2018 bond package, are intended to turn the popular facility into a place that is “inviting, engaging and functional.”

“And we believe that we have done that,” Caron said as he unveiled design plans for the new and improved Broughton Recreation Center and Broughton Park.

The existing Broughton Park was acquired in 1960 and features two pavilions, basketball courts, a playground and splash pad, a well-used trail, softball field and restrooms. Broughton Recreation Center was built in 1978 and opened in 1979. The windowless facility features a gym with a stage, three classrooms and branch location of the Longview Public Library.

As one of five indoor facilities the Parks and Recreation Department oversees, Caron said Broughton was chosen for improvements because of “its popularity, its use and its ability to expand.”

The upgrades call for a new look and feel to the facility. The current center has what Caron described as “an institutional look and feel.” The new design will add numerous windows and a new color scheme that includes the city’s favorite shade — Lobo green. A covered promenade will tie together the park and the recreation center.

The recreation center will be expanded further to the south and will add parking to the south as well. To the east, the walking trail at Broughton Park also will be extended. Existing basketball courts will be renovated.

Meanwhile, inside the recreation center, an e-sports room will be expanded. Caron said e-sports (a form of competition using video games) are growing in popularity, and the space will allow the city to host competitions and develop its own teams. The e-sports room will double as a computer lab for the community. A fitness area that features about four pieces of equipment also will be expanded to house cardiovascular machines and weightlifting equipment, Caron said.

The Broughton library branch, which is in the back of the building, will move to the front of the recreation center.

A highlight of the renovations includes a new, indoor, expanded gym. The new gymnasium will be large enough to house a full NBA-sized court, which is 94 feet. The current basketball court is 74 feet, Caron said. The gym also will be widened so that spectators can more comfortably sit and watch games, he said.

Caron said he believes the community will be excited to see the improvements and will feel “really welcomed into the facility.”

The city received five bids for the work. All five bids originally exceeded the city’s $5.4 million budget. At an original bid of $5.7 million, RLM had provided the lowest of the five bids. Caron said he worked with the company to help reduce the amount to bring it within the budget. That meant the city had to reduce some of the scope of the work, including that the splash pad at Broughton will not see renovations, Caron explained.

Caron said construction is slated to begin in June and will take about 13 months.

The council unanimously approved the contract with District 3 Councilman Wray Wade making the initial motion to approve. Wade grew up in the district and recalled attending the opening of the original Broughton Recreation Center as a child.

”I can’t wait to be there for the opening of this one,” Wade said.

In other business Thursday, the council approved a zoning request that clears the way for Starbucks to build a location with a drive-thru window at the intersection of Gilmer Road and Toler Road.

Rick Howell, who owns a Subway restaurant on Gilmer Road, spoke during public comment to express concern about traffic stacking up on the road as people wait in the Starbucks drive-thru. Other Starbucks locations, including the one on Loop 281, have had a history of cars being backed up on the heavily trafficked roadways.

City Planner Angela Choy said a sign will be placed on Gilmer Road saying that “stacking” is not allowed. Starbucks also has agreed to put up fencing to help separate the business from a nearby residential neighborhood.

District 5 Councilman David Wright asked Choy what would happen if cars stack up in line for the drive-thru, regardless of the sign. Choy explained that Longview police will assist with enforcing the rule.

Choy also explained that Longview police have worked with the Starbucks on Loop 281 to develop a new plan for stacking traffic through the parking lot instead of vehicles backing up on the loop.

Before the city’s adoption in 2020 of the Unified Development Code, the city did not have an ordinance pertaining to stacking. The code now includes a requirement that a business be able to accommodate at least 10 spaces for vehicles in a drive-thru, Choy added.

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