The official name for the facility was revealed Thursday as the Bellevue Recreation Center received a $45,000 donation from Kinder Morgan, developer of the Utopia East Pipeline project. The company donated $5,000 toward the construction of the facility in February, and returned in March with the larger investment to help make the indoor play center a reality for the region’s residents.
The Kinder Morgan Kids Center is scheduled to open to the public this spring, featuring a centerpiece play structure that was once part of Kalahari Resort near Sandusky.
(NOTE: Pictures of the facility of posted on this website.)
The indoor equipment, originally priced at about $1 million, was donated by Kalahari to Bellevue and is located in a separate complex next to the original rec center. Jungle Junction will provide year-round recreational opportunities, with the structure accommodating up to 350 children at a time.
Allen Fore, vice president of public affairs for Kinder Morgan, presented the donation to Marc Weisenberger, director of the Bellevue Recreation Center, during a tour of the center and unveiling of its official name.
“Kinder Morgan has been a tremendous supporter of our efforts to make this facility a reality,” Weisenberger said. “This generous investment will help create beneficial health and fitness opportunities for families in our communities, and provide an outstanding recreational facility the entire region can be proud of.”
The equipment features at least 10 air cannons that shoot into the ball-filled center of the circular play area. The balls can be propelled to seem to float midair and children can use the cannons to blow the balls to the other side of the contained area. The contained soft play equipment is surrounded by netting on the sides and top and has cushioned protectors over hard, metal surfaces to protect those playing.
“The community center is at least 30 years old,” Weisenberger previously told the Reflector in a story posted on this website. “It has the traditional areas of a fitness center but one component we were missing was a family component, like a swimming pool or ice rink. We looked into them, but the initial expense and the expense of upkeep was significant. Then we had this opportunity come up with the donation of the equipment and Kinder Morgan’s donation. ...Now we’ll have something — an area for the whole family.”
Weisenberger believed it would serve families in about a six-county district.
“Kinder Morgan is proud to partner with and support the Bellevue Recreation Center,” Fore said. “We’re excited to see families enjoying this truly unique showcase this spring. We are committed to supporting Sandusky, Erie and Huron counties’ nonprofits, as we have been in other parts of Ohio for over 60 years.”
Donations by Janotta and Herener also helped the project become a reality.
The Kinder Morgan Kids Center will offer a family-friendly play and party facility in a healthy, safe and fun environment. The indoor playground is two stories high with six levels of adventure and more than 60 play features, including slides, air cannons, obstacle courses and interactive game panels to keep children entertained and challenged for hours.