Clermont’s seniors soon will have a new place to play. The City of Clermont’s new Kehlor Recreation Center is complete, and the public is invited to a ribbon cutting and open house at 10 a.m. Nov. 15 at 466 W. Minneola Ave. in Downtown Clermont.
After the ribbon cutting, attendees will be invited inside the 1,937-square-foot facility, which features a multipurpose room, restrooms and storage. A calendar of upcoming senior programs will be available. Local favorite Tim Hargis will perform live music, and shuffleboard demonstrations will be held at the adjacent courts. Attendees will receive a commemorative gift, first come, first served.
“The original Kehlor Recreation Center was such an asset to our downtown and to our community for over 60 years,” Clermont Mayor Ash said. “One of my requests for our Master Plan was to keep a focus on our seniors by upgrading this center.”
The $484,000 building is part of the city’s $22-million Master Plan to enhance the Downtown-Waterfront District. City Manager Darren Gray spearheaded the award-winning plan with community visioning sessions in 2013 and the City Council approved the plan in 2015. The Master Plan projects are being fully funded by Lake County’s Infrastructure Sales Tax, also known as the Penny Sales Tax.
“We love our seniors and they’re an important part of our Clermont community,” Gray said. “It was time that we built them a bigger, better recreation center downtown.”
The new facility is part of Kehlor Park, which includes shuffleboard and tennis courts on the northeast corner of Fifth Street and Minneola Avenue. The recreation center has restrooms that are accessible from the outside of the building for those using the courts.
Popular Champions For A Lifetime (senior) programs currently at the Clermont Arts and Recreation Center will be expanded to the new facility. With Clermont’s growing population of over 40,000, and because one out of every three residents is a senior, more active 55-and-up programs certainly are warranted.
“The Parks and Recreation Department is excited for the opening of the new Kehlor Recreation Center,” Parks and Recreation Department Director Scott Davidoff said. “We are committed to providing high quality recreational and social programs for all of our active adults. This new facility will allow us to continue the existing programs and to create new opportunities for our participants to enjoy.”
Construction began in December 2018. Powell Studio Architecture designed it to look consistent with other city structures, including the gateway entry features.
Kehlor Park is named after Lamira Kehlor. She and her husband, James, a successful flour miller, lived in East St. Louis and owned a winter home near the current park in Clermont. Lamira was a generous and popular figure, so much so that the city threw her a parade in 1917. She died a year later, and in her will she donated land for a city park.
“What a great honor for the Kehlor family,” Ash said. “They dedicated this property to the city over a century ago, and we’re keeping their commitment for recreation.”
Champions For A Lifetime offers a variety of programs and activities for active adults 55+ and is open to residents and non-residents; learn more about the program at www.ClermontFL.gov/departments/parks-recreation/senior-programs. Follow the progress of the Master Plan and read up on its projects at www.ClermontFL.gov/MasterPlan.