Villages residents now can enjoy access to recreation features in The Village of DeLuna and The Village of Chitty Chatty, with even more amenities to come. The announcement of the ribbon-cutting at Water Lily Recreation Center came Friday via a virtual announcement from its Village DeLuna location. The Chitty Chatty Recreation Area also opened, adding two new recreational amenities for all residents of The Villages. Their unveiling was only the beginning. Soon afterward, The Villages shared a glimpse of plans for Ezell Recreation Center, the Southern Oaks Championship Golf Course (details in today’s Sports section) and the Sawgrass Grove, located on a site south of Warm Springs Avenue on the planned Meggison Road expansion east of Florida’s Turnpike.
Sawgrass Grove will include an indoor farmer’s market, other retail shops, an entertainment venue and a restaurant.
The Ezell Recreation Center — named for Kenny Ezell, golf and design partner at CEC Golf Design Group, whose handiwork is all over golf courses here — will be a tribute to the sport, said Tracy Morse, The Villages vice president of design.
“We wanted to honor golf because The Villages is the largest golfing community in the world,” said Devon Wiechens, The Villages senior design manager. “To our surprise we had not yet done this theme.”
The new recreation centers are part of the ongoing drive to expand recreation amenities from one end of the community to the other.
For instance, in the northern end of The Villages, design work on the First Responders Recreation Center at the Village of Calumet Grove is headed for bid in the coming months. The revitalization of a former 9,154-square-foot fellowship hall on 19 acres will include a putt-and-play golf course among other amenities.
In the southern end of The Villages, Water Lily Recreation Center features a resort-style family pool, billiards room, meeting and gathering rooms, trails and pathways, outdoor fitness equipment, a covered pavilion, pickleball, shuffleboard, corn toss and bocce.
It already has Villagers raving.
Alycyn Culbertson and her husband, Lee, couldn’t wait to enjoy the resort-style pool which is just a short walk from their home in The Village of DeLuna.
“We’re very excited,” Alycyn said. “It’s only about 100 yards from my home. I’m also very excited to see the inside of the building because The Villages does such a great job of decorating the recreation centers.”
John Rohan, director of The Villages Recreation & Parks Department, agreed.
“You can feel the love that the design team put into this place,” he said. “This recreation center is built among the hardwood trees, and the views all the way around are absolutely spectacular. It’s a natural fit. It came together so beautifully on the exterior. Then, when you come inside and see the beauty of it, you can’t help but be happy, vibrant and excited.”
Rohan was among Recreation & Parks staff on-hand for the virtual ribbon-cutting, a precaution in keeping with CDC guidelines to minimize crowds at this time.
“We are doing something that is unprecedented,” he said. “We’re anxious to get it open and get it full of life. We strive for people to get the most out of life. What better way to do it than living and enjoying everything that The Villages has to offer? It’s going to be packed full of fun and excitement.”
Also in the southern end of The Villages, Rhonda Waters and her husband, Jan, said they were thrilled by the new neighborhood recreation at the Village of Chitty Chatty.
“Our new house is within walking distance of the recreation area, so I’m definitely going to the pool,” said Rhonda, who just moved into her new home on Friday.
Chitty Chatty features a 7,978-square-foot pool and deck area, bocce ball, shuffleboard and corn toss courts.
The game courts are perfect amenities for the couple’s grandchildren when they visit, Waters said.
“They love to do that,” she said. “We also like the walking path around the Chitty Chatty Preserve. We’re just so excited to be over here in our new home.”
Rohan said that positive feedback from residents is what The Villages is all about.
“Our department gets enjoyment from being a part of these openings because we know it is just the beginning of great experiences and memories our residents will enjoy as they use these amenities in The Villages,” he said.
Senior writer David R. Corder can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5241, or firstname.lastname@example.org.