City officials and community leaders hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Nov. 1 for the grand reopening of the Willie B. Johnson Recreation Center following an $8.8 million redesign.

The recreation facility's improvements were financed through the city's 2017 bond program. Robb P. Stewart, Dallas Parks and Recreation board member representing City Council District 10, said the renovations would not have been possible without the public’s active participation leading up to that bond.

“You advocated for yourself and advocated and advocated, and because of that, this is the result,” Stewart said. “This is the heart of their community.”

The new additions for the facility at 12225 Willowdell Drive include a senior center, a technology center and a gymnasium. Officials said they were thrilled to open the new basketball court, which moved indoors as part of the redesign. During a Nov. 1 board meeting, Stewart said that the new gymnasium is the first for the community.

“The story of the Hamilton Park and Lake Highlands communities coming together to advocate for inclusion of this special project in the 2017 bond program is one to remember,” District 10 Council Member Adam McGough said in a statement. "It’s an honor to finally celebrate with the community the fruits of our labor."

Exterior renovations were also included in the redesign. Parking has been expanded from 53 spaces to 86; a paved walking trail has been added; and new lighting has been installed throughout the surrounding area, according to officials. The renovated design includes a solar-powered energy grid, which provides energy for exterior and interior lighting. The facility also has water-saving landscape and irrigation systems as well as energy efficient heating and cooling systems.

The basketball court was put to use by 11-year-old Carson Savoy and his friend.

“My son used to come here all the time and has been asking when it would open over and over again,” said Carson's mother, Danielle Savoy, a Lake Highlands resident. “He was so excited that we came to the grand opening to see the new gymnasium."