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Renovated center gives Coast Guard families a home base

March 21, 2015

BOURNE, Mass. (AP) — With the help of newly installed lane bumpers at Air Station Cape Cod’s bowling alley, 7-year-old Aaron Matthews was one pin away from a spare. His 9-year-old sister, Samantha, cheered him on.

About a dozen Coast Guardsmen and benefactors gathered at the Crosswinds Activity Center for a rededication of the recreation center, which underwent a $65,000 renovation in the fall.

“What are the big scissors for?” Aaron asked his father, Coast Guard Chief William Matthews, at the start of a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The project turned a bowling alley that was brought to the Coast Guard base in the early 1990s from Naval Air Station South Weymouth into a state-of-the-art recreation center, according to Capt. Stephen Torpey, commanding officer of Air Station Cape Cod.

“So we got hand-me-downs from the Navy in the ’90s and use it all the way through 2014,” Torpey said during the ceremony. “Talk about squeezing six cents out of a nickel.”

The effort to update the recreation center started about a year ago, when the Coast Guard Foundation reached out to one of its primary benefactors, Tom Niles, of Lexington, but it had been on the foundation’s “to-do list” for at least three years, Susan Ludwig, the foundation’s regional director of philanthropy, said.

In 1982, the Coast Guard rescued Niles during a boating accident in Boston Harbor; he has a great appreciation for the branch and is a regular donor, Ludwig said.

With more than 250 Coast Guard families living on the base, Air Station Cape Cod has the second-largest housing community in the country. The recreation center serves not only all of those families, but also members of the other branches at Joint Base Cape Cod and visiting active or retired military members.

Last year, 4,500 people bowled at the recreation center and five leagues met there weekly, according to Richard Carman, the base’s morale, well-being and recreation director. This year, there are 10 leagues and Carman attributes that uptick to renovations that were completed in October.

The new center comes complete with new controllers, 42-inch cable and Internet-ready monitors, as well as new pins, lanes and bowling shoes.

Coast Guard members move about every two to four years and when they arrive on a new base, it is important to have an inviting place to spend time, Torpey said. The goal of the new recreation center was to create a better experience for Coast Guard families living on the Cape, he added.

“Cape Cod is a wonderful place to live and work, but it does get busy in the summer and cold and snowy in the winter,” Torpey said. “So to create this indoor alternative was a great venture.”

In the next year, an indoor computerized golf course also will be installed at the recreation center, Carman said.

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