L.B. and Ola Simmons Community Activities and Recreation Center
The need for a family recreational and entertainment facility for the City of Duncan has long been a part of the city’s long range plan. In 1975, the Board of the United Funds in recommending such a facility stated “the number one family and community priority need, is a family community center which would become a focal point for better and stronger community relations – it would fill a void that now exists.”
During 1983 and early 1984, a group of civic leaders established task forces which studied financing, site selection, and the recreational and cultural needs of a proposed community center. It would be a facility, under one roof, where the entire family, ages 2 to 92, could find a variety of recreational and entertainment activities.
November, 1984-The Duncan Community Activity Center Governing Board was established by the Duncan Public Utilities Authority and Duncan Chamber of Commerce. The Board consisted of two representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, two City Council members and City Manager.
December, 1984-Duncan Civic Auditorium Foundation offered funds and land toward the construction of an auditorium/theatre in the new Center. The City of Duncan earmarked $3,000,000 toward construction of the Center.
A contribution of $2,000,000 was announced in memory of L.B. and Ola Simmons by their family. The facility was to be designated the L.B. and Ola Simmons Community Activities Center. In addition, the Board chose a forty-four acre tract of land on North 29th Street between Beech and Elk Avenue as the site for the Center, and McCune Partners, a Tulsa architectural firm was chosen to design the project. *Note-29th Street became Chisholm trail Parkway in 2004.
An Activity Center Fund Drive was organized to raise $6,000,000.
total pledges by year-end exceeded $6,000,000.
A schematic plan for a 105,000 square foot facility was approved by the Duncan Public Utilities Authority.
Ground breaking ceremonies for the building of the L.B. and Ola Simmons Community activities Center were held.
The Simmons Center Foundation formed as an alternative to city management. The foundation through a concentrated effort raised the remaining funds for completion of the facility.
The facility and the ground of the Simmons Center were leased from the City of Duncan by the Simmons Center Foundation. The Foundation is responsible for the total operations and any upkeep and improvements of the facility and grounds.
The Recreation wing of the facility was officially opened for public use. This wing houses an aquatic center, racquetball/wallyball courts, gymnasiums, walking/jogging track, aerobics dance room, body development room, game room, and locker room facilities.
The Conventions/Theatre wing of the facility was officially opened for rental. This wing houses a 750 seat theatre, dressing rooms, three large convention/meeting rooms each dividing in to three sections, and catering kitchen.
Centennial Park project was completed. The park offers 10,000 sq. ft. of handicapped “total access” playground space free to the public and maintained by the Simmons Center staff. Over 1,700 volunteers worked countless hours to design and build this truly unique facility and was the first such facility completed in the state.
The culmination of years of effort, Simmons Center not only provides family fun and fitness at its finest but also serves the cultural, social, and civic needs of our community.
The partnership of the employees, volunteers, and board members to provide superb service in an unmatched environment is community spirit at its ultimate. The success of Simmons Center depends on each one of us.