BALTIMORE (WJZ)— It’s the first new recreation center in the city in nearly a decade, and the mayor was on hand to help cut the ribbon Monday morning.

Ron Matz has more on why it means the world to one Southwest Baltimore community.

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It’s a big day in Morrell Park. They cut the ribbon on a new state-of-the-art recreation center.

“I’m very excited about this. Five children got raised around here in the small rec. I’m very excited for the grandkids to be in this new rec,” said Dottie Smith, Morrell Park resident.

The new rec center has a computer lab, a big gym and an outdoor green space. The mayor even took a quick work out in the fitness center.

“We are here today because we know that providing our young people with constructive activities is not only good for them but is good for our city,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “A majority of our city’s recreation centers were constructed in the late 60s and 70s. Many of the centers have not been updated since. You have to stay current if you want families to use them.”

That pride is showing here.

“I could not allow our young people to go to recreation centers that were dilapidated, that were unsafe, so I took action. You wouldn’t send anybody to them. Our families deserve better,” the mayor said.

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The community fought for three years to make it happen.

“It means a lot to me. I’ve been waiting years for this. It will get the teenagers off the streets. That’s my main concern,” Smith said.

The mayor is promising more new recreation centers for Baltimore, funded by the sale of four city-owned parking garages.

“We will not stop until we have quality recreational opportunities for all of Baltimore City’s young people,” Rawlings-Blake said. “Recreation is a priority for my administration. I believe leveraging the assets of the parking garages to help us invest in recreation centers is a way that will improve the quality of life for citizens all over the city.”

A quality of life that just got better in Morrell Park.

“It’s just an amazing space. The neighborhood doesn’t have this. The kids need options for after school to have activities to do,” said Nichelle Johnson, Morrell Park Middle principal.

The mayor estimates the sale of the four parking garages will raise anywhere from $40 million- 60 million.

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