MEDFORD — A $1.7 million expansion of the Santo Community Center could bring basketball players more space to shoot hoops by Christmas.

MEDFORD — A $1.7 million expansion of the Santo Community Center could bring basketball players more space to shoot hoops by Christmas.

The Medford Parks and Recreation Department plans to build a new 11,776-square-foot gymnasium along with a 493-square-foot lobby and a covered walkway this year at the former Army Reserve center (see correction note below) at the intersection of McAndrews Road and Columbus Avenue.

All the new construction still won't meet the demand for court space, however, city officials said.

"We could probably build five gyms on site and still not have enough," said Sue McKenna, recreation supervisor. "Even with the Kids Unlimited Gym (which opened earlier this year), it's not enough."

McKenna said the city's recreation program relies heavily on school gyms and the Roller Odyssey skating rink during off-times, and still has to turn kids away from participating.

"We actually have to limit programs due to lack of space," she said.

Medford's Site Plan and Architectural Commission is scheduled to review plans for the Santo Community Center expansion at noon Friday in the City Council Chambers.

The Santo project will be funded by revenue bonds, which are financed by Medford's parks utility fee.

In December, the City Council approved a $2.56 increase (over the previous 31-cent monthly fee) in the park fee which is included on monthly utility bills.

The city sold $18.9 million in revenue bonds to fund the Santo expansion as well as components of the U.S. Cellular Community Park.

In addition to being used for youth and adult basketball, the new gym will be used for youth and adult volleyball, tot soccer leagues, and classes, said McKenna.

Merlin McDaniel, design and construction manager for the parks department, said the project is being designed by Ogden Roemer Wilkerson Architecture of Medford, and the general contractor will be Adroit Construction of Ashland. He said the earliest construction could begin is mid-August.

The Planning Commission approved the Santo expansion in May. A future expansion of the existing teen center and classrooms was also reviewed and their uses approved.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail mlanders@mailtribune.com.

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly identified the Santo center as a former National Guard armory. This version has been corrected.