Wednesday, August 21, 2019

A new $750,000 Texas Library and Archives Commission grant will help the City increase the community’s access to technology within and surround the future East Arlington Recreation Center and Library.

The joint facility, which is slated to open at Bob Cooke Park off New York Avenue next year, will replace the existing Hugh Smith Recreation Center and East Branch Library. Arlington voters approved funding for the $26 million, 47,249-square-foot facility in the 2014 Bond Election

The state’s Library Innovation Zone grant will allow Arlington to expand internet availability, creating a tech-centered community outdoor space, while increasing the technological capabilities within the recreation center and library as well. The latter will allow for the creation of a high-tech community room and a video chat room that partners can use to interact with residents through classes and meetings and virtual appointments, including appointments with medical providers.

“We know that not all households in our growing community have access to computers or highspeed internet. Yet these tools today are critical when it comes to connecting our residents with educational and career resources, public services or even information about their local government or school district,” Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said. “Our goal with the East Arlington Innovation Zone is to improve access to technology and technology-centered programming to help bridge our community’s digital divide and ensure Arlington is a place where people of all ages and backgrounds can achieve their American Dream.”

Additionally, the grant money will be used to add charging stations, a laptop dispenser with computers that residents may check out, internet hotspots for checkout, and will give residents the ability to interact with a robotic agriculture system to learn about gardening.

State Representative Chris Turner, whose district includes major portions of Arlington and Grand Prairie, added the grant as a rider to House Bill 1, the two-year state budget. The grant will be administered by the state Library and Archives Commission.

“The new East Arlington Recreation Center and Library is in the heart of one of the most economically challenged areas of our community, where it's difficult for many residents to access reliable internet and up-to-date technology," Turner said. "If you don’t have internet access, it can be virtually impossible to apply for a job, complete assignments for school or any number of other tasks. By providing internet service, laptops and other technology to the community, East Arlington residents will be better able to access medical care, employment resources, educational tools, and much more. I am glad I was able to obtain this crucial funding, which will make a real difference for many District 101 residents."