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NE OKC opens $17.5M Recreational Center- Willa D. Johnson

The Willa D. Johnson Recreation Center is a $17.5 million facility is located at 909 Frederick Douglass Ave. in Northeast Oklahoma City, and features a gym, lounge, two multipurpose rooms, a teaching kitchen and an indoor swimming pool. Adult memberships range from $15-$25 per month. Youth memberships will be $10-$15.

Funding for the center was part of the 10-year, $967 million bond package called Better Streets, Safer City, which voters approved in 2017. The issue invests in parks, streets, police and fire facilities and other community needs.

The center is named for former Ward 7 Councilmember Johnson, who was the first Black woman to serve on Oklahoma City Council. Johnson represented her ward for 14 years, and later served as an Oklahoma County Commissioner for 11 years. She passed away in 2022 at the age of 83.

We’ve been anticipating this day for a long time,” Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Director Melinda McMillan-Miller said. “This state-of-the-art facility is the first of its kind in over 40 years, and we are so thankful to the residents for their confidence in the Parks and Recreation Department to construct and operate this facility for generations to come.”

The center is home to a mixed-media mural entitled Freedom to Dream created by Ebony Iman Dallas, Quiquia Calhoun, Jarica Walsh and students from Douglass High School, which was Councilwoman Johnson’s alma mater. The design features Johnson surrounded by children as she encourages them to follow their dreams.

Celebrated as a local trailblazer, Johnson was the first Black woman to serve on the Oklahoma City Council. She represented Ward 7 for 14 years. She also was a county commissioner for 11 years. She died in 2022 at age 83.

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