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Turnstone Center seeking $14 million expansion for fieldhouse

– Turnstone Center for Children and Adults with Disabilities Inc. is seeking a $14.1 million expansion that would allow sporting and related activities at the campus to grow.

In a Fort Wayne Plan Commission filing this week, the nonprofit organization said it envisions a 125,000-square-foot addition at its 3320 N. Clinton St. location. A new fieldhouse would include a warm-water therapy pool and related equipment, health and wellness space, and associated offices.

Turnstone CEO Nancy Louraine said the facility is the fourth largest Paralympics sports club in the United States. It serves 2,200 individuals and their families annually.

So far, officials have raised more than half of the money for the project through a capital campaign, including a monetary gift from Ron and Suzanna Plassman.

“Their contribution really launched it,” Louraine said, preferring not to reveal the amount. “We hope to break ground this summer and could open in early 2016.”

The bulk of Turnstone’s $4 million annual budget comes from donations. The expansion would result in the organization’s 75-person staff adding up to 20 new workers with a $40,000 median salary.

Turnstone provides therapeutic, educational, wellness and recreation programs for children and adults with disabilities.

The center is touted as the only one of its kind in the Midwest. Anyone within a 150-mile radius of the facility can use its resources. About 200 area students compete on Turnstone’s athletic teams, which include wheelchair basketball, power soccer, tennis, sled hockey, fencing, kayaking and archery.

Louraine said Turnstone’s expansion would not only benefit students, it would also bolster tourism in Fort Wayne with its burgeoning sports tournaments.

“We have 25 weekend tournaments a year,” she said. “Our service hours grew 62 percent in the last four years. We’re just full. The expansion would allow us to host and bid for larger athletic events. We have people who come from all over the country to spend the weekend with us.”

Besides seeking to rezone its property, which sits on more than 19 acres, Turnstone will need Livingston Avenue, near Spy Run, reconstructed to allow a second entrance and exit.

“With all of the traffic we’ve been getting, it’s really difficult just having one entrance,” Louraine said. “We will be working with the city on this, of course.”

In 2012, construction crews completed a 10,000-square-foot pediatric therapy area. Louraine said the new fieldhouse, which would connect to the existing building, is a continuation of that plan.

“That was considered phase one,” she said.

pwyche@jg.net

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