After nearly a decade of fundraising, negotiating and designing, the Heidelberg Recreation Association has broken ground on a new community hub.

Through the Build a Better Booth campaign, the group has been dedicated to replacing the rundown and condemned field house at the local park on Lobsinger Line for years, and now, they are nearing the end of construction.

The new $360,000 community centre is slated to open up next month, with only the finishing touches to be completed over the coming weeks.

“Seeing the progress that is being built, that is one of the most exciting things,” said association member Scott McGregor. “The building is built, so it is just the remaining pieces inside. I am just so excited about the fact that we have broken ground.”

The building, which also includes the rebuilt picnic shelter, will feature an accessible community room, a servery with sink, fridge, a microwave, public washrooms and an updated outdoor area.

“The washrooms are going to be so nice,” said McGregor. “Not only will ball players have a place to use the facilities, but anyone in the park will be able to use them. That is going to be a huge addition to that spot.”

The association has already had local community groups and individual members inquiring about how to rent the new space for their meetings and gatherings. McGregor says it has been great to see everyone interested in the project.

The association itself has also seen an uptick in public interest.

“I kind of figured that would happen because it has been stagnant for a number of years, and now people see things happening. It is nice. Hopefully, this will add another level of community participation in regards to the park. It is exciting.”

The fundraising still isn’t over for the parks and rec. association, however. They are hosting a Paint Night fundraiser with the help of The Olde Heidelberg Restaurant and Tavern right in town on Feb. 27. The idea is to be able to outfit the new centre with furniture and supplies, while also making up the difference in anticipated funding.

Despite more fundraising planned for the future, McGregor says it is a huge relief to see the building underway, and nearly complete, not only for him, but for the rest of the association as well.

“It has been a long process. I wasn’t even on the rec. association when this all started. I have been there for five years, so I am going to say it has been at least seven or eight years in the making, and that is a long time,” he noted. “There have been people on the association that have come and gone, some have even moved away since then. Even they are reaching out saying how great it is that it is finally being built. The old building was made up of termites holding hands, but now, it is a safe spot, it is nice and wheelchair accessible – it is for everyone.”

The association is thankful for all the support they have received over the last few years, from the community in both monetary donations, moral support and in-kind donations.

“I think the thank-you is that it has been a long haul. It is a huge thank-you to everyone who has supported the Build A Better Booth. It has been frustrating and now we are in the satisfaction stage. We are at the finish line. Trillium was a huge kicker. If it wasn’t for them, we would still be trekking along. They gave us a big chunk of money and that is what made it happen,” said McGregor of the $150,000 contribution from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

“The general message to anybody, to anyone that had anything to do with contributions, whether it is money, time or effort of any nature, it is more than appreciated. Now, we have this place and it all worked out.”

For more information on the Paint Night fundraiser on Feb. 27, call 519-699-4571 in the evening to register. The cost is $45, with $15 going towards the Build a Better Booth campaign. The fee includes painting supplies and the direction of an artist. Registration ends on Feb. 20.