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The Virginian-Pilot(Norfolk, VA.)

The City Council voted Tuesday to buy a 30-acre site on Portsmouth Boulevard for a multipurpose recreation and athletic complex.

The city is purchasing the land, near the intersection with Frederick Boulevard, for $3.75 million from United Health Services.

The money will come from the city's general fund reserve, City Manager John Rowe said.

It's one of the largest land purchases the city has made in years, Rowe said. The property borders the Truxtun and Brighton communities and was previously a residential treatment center for troubled children.

Residents in Truxtun, including civic group leader Elvira Johnson, have been lobbying the city long and hard for a recreation center of its own.

Mayor Kenny Wright pushed for a recreation center in Truxtun, but other council members balked, saying the city's recreation plan did not recommend such a move.

Tuesday night, though, the council was on the same page, voting unanimously to buy the land.

"This is great news," Wright said. "It's great not only for the south side of Portsmouth, but for Portsmouth as a whole."

The site is about two blocks from a piece of vacant land where Johnson wanted a recreation center built. It has an indoor basketball court, a baseball and softball field, outdoor tennis and basketball courts and a small indoor pool.

"I may have gotten more than I asked for," Johnson told the council. "I think the children will be happy."

The city is planning to put nearly $2 million into renovating the site, including adding an Olympic-size swimming pool, Deputy City Manager Nita Mensia-Joseph said.

The site will be open for some recreational uses, such as the gym and the athletic fields, before the end of summer, Rowe said.

Tim Eberly, 757-446-2794,

June 11, 2014

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