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Palm Beach Daily News


After a donation from Ken Griffin, Friends of Recreation has reached its fundraising goal for a new recreation center.

Griffin, a Chicago hedge-fund billionaire who owns more than 15 acres in Palm Beach, agreed to donate $750,000 for the construction of the proposed Morton & Barbara Mandel Recreation Center.

The donation, along with about 80 others — including one other $750,000 donation — brought the rec center to its goal of $3.7 million, according to Friends of Recreation Vice Chairman Michael Ainslie. The other donors' names were not immediately released.

Ainslie said he expects the project and construction plans to be finalized during June's Town Council meeting.

If the project is approved, town officials will aim for a September 2019 completion date, Ainslie said.

"The new Mandel Recreation Center will be a place where Palm Beach families and residents of all ages can enjoy activities and spend time with one another," Griffin said in a statement. "I am excited to support this project."

Griffin's donation will pay for a playground next to the tennis courts along Seaview Avenue.

Ainslie said the idea for a donation was first discussed with Griffin about six weeks ago, and after mulling it over for about two weeks, he decided to commit.

"He loved the fact that it was for kids," Ainslie said. "It was good timing, and it was a good spot for him to make a contribution."

Plans for the recreation center include a fitness center, landscaping and a larger gymnasium.

The existing tennis center and large field along Royal Palm Way will remain.

A lawsuit that could have blocked construction of the center appears to be defunct.

In January, a three-judge panel in Palm Beach County Circuit Court dismissed the suit, finding that plaintiffs Anne Pepper and Christine Watkins lacked legal standing to make the challenge.

The two asked the court to reconsider its dismissal.

The court answered their motion for "rehearing and clarification" March 6, when the judges clarified the ruling but denied the motion for another hearing.

Pepper and Watkins had 30 days to appeal the dismissal to the 4th District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach, meaning by 5 p.m. Thursday. As of Friday, there was no record of an appeal.


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April 12, 2018


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