Reporting Gigi Barnett
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Several city community centers are set to close for good this summer. It’s a plan that will make room for more state-of-the-art rec centers.
But as Gigi Barnett reports, residents fear the closures will leave kids out in the streets.
The city says it wants to save money by closing some of those rec centers but some neighbors say it is the children who’ll pay the price.
Alice Nicholson remembers when the Parkview Recreation Center was the life of her Northwest Baltimore community.
“We had a ceramics class, someone teaching ceramics,” Nicholson, a volunteer at the center, said. “We had a lot going on but it done faded out.”
Her rec center is now on Baltimore’s chopping block. This week, the city says Parkview is one of four set to close this summer.
The city says the centers are too old to keep.
“We know that we have an outdated system of rec centers that were built for a time that has passed,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.
Right now, the city is spending a little more than $19 million to renovate one rec center and build three others. The mayor says for years now, she’s warned of these closings.
“We are determined to have a state-of-the-art recreation program throughout the city,” Rawlings-Blake said.
In addition to Parkview, Crispus Attucks, Harlem Park and Central Rosemont rec centers will shut down as well.
Without them, Nicholson fears her grandkids and neighborhood kids will fall prey to the streets.
“The streets around here, it’s not going to be safe for our children. They will have no option,” she said.
Rawlings-Blake plans to dramatically slash spending when it comes to rec centers. In the next year, her plan could save the city up to $11 million.
City Council President Jack Young is against the plan to close the four rec centers.