The city of Casa Grande opened its long-awaited Community Recreation Center on Monday, and it is an amenity that was worth the wait. The center was built largely with bonds approved by voters 13 years ago. It was put on hold during the Great Recession as a budget squeeze would have made operation of the center difficult or impossible. In recent years, a lengthy planning process was conducted in an attempt to build something that would be beneficial to as many as possible, giving the public what it wanted without competing excessively with private industry.
The center also was made possible by a land donation years ago from the Guy Gilbert family. They developed their acreage northeast of Trekell Road and Cottonwood Lane after years of farming while development encroached. Meanwhile they set aside something to benefit the community. That was nothing new for the extended Gilbert family, who had donated land for First Presbyterian Church and also made Gilbert Park on Trinity Place possible.
Carlotta Gilbert, who was active in civic work for many years, died at age 101 last year. She and her daughters, Nada Jo, Miriam and Carol, gave 8 acres for the project in 2007. They deserve thanks for helping Casa Grandeans get something that they all can be proud of.
Meanwhile, extensive planning gave Boys & Girls Clubs of the Casa Grande Valley a new home in the center. The organization moved its headquarters and one site from the old high school gym near City Hall after years there. The clubs received a substantial donation from longtime farmer and investor Nap Lawrence.
Both donations have ties to Casa Grande’s old and deep agricultural roots. The gifts are examples of the generosity that helps make a great community. The center is something that Casa Grandeans will enjoy for generations.