NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — Officials in New Bern have broken ground and will begin work on an updated project for the community.

A staple to the area, the Stanley White Recreation Center is being rebuilt. The building was badly damaged by Hurricane Florence. It was torn down and will be replaced with a new, bigger and better facility.

The original facility built in 1976 is where many New Bern residents grew up.

“I feel like I’m back as a kid when I was watching ‘Oh, we get ready to get built and couldn’t wait to get in there,” said Taurance Williams, supervisor of Athletics for the City of New Bern Parks and Rec.

The center was hit by Hurricane Florence in 2018.

“The park had substantial flooding, we had several feet of water in that facility, the facility was deemed substantially damaged,” said Foster Hughes, city manager for the City of New Bern.

Just a few months ago, the Tisdale House was moved to make way for this facility. Officials say that move and FEMA funding is able to bring back the space on higher ground, costing around $13,000.

“Is going to have a double gym and elevate a walking track, cardio and weight rooms, fitness rooms, it’s going to have significant meeting space, a game room, health screening room, offices for Parks and Recreation staff, and it’s also going to serve as an emergency shelter,” said Hughes.

Hundreds attended the historic groundbreaking, including the sons of Stanley White, to see his legacy live on.

“It’s good to honor him in the work he did,” said William Billy Moore. “We need that in our community as a symbol of restoration and rebuild. But you know, it’s not so much about the building. but it’s the spirit and the work that takes place in that building.”

The 35,000-square-foot facility will serve the community for decades to come. The project is expected to be complete in the fall of 2024.