BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After closing its doors in 2012, the Harlem Park Rec Center in West Baltimore is officially back in business.
There’s new lighting, books, games and sporting equipment and an upgraded multipurpose room. Officials are hoping this will help kickstart the revitalization of Harlem Park.
“I fought this rec center closing because this rec center is an asset for the community,” Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said.
Now that asset has returned, renovated and reopened.
“The youth, to me, are what suffer the most. And this is an opportunity to give them a safe haven and an opportunity and a place where they know they can go,” said mother Maisha McCoy.
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It’s described a safe haven and a beacon of hope for the community.
“I didn’t think it was going to happen in my lifetime but yes it is. It’s a beacon but it’s also a place for us to come and have our community meetings,” said community member Arlene Fisher.
The new space will offer sports leagues, out-of-school learning, summer camps as well as wellness and health programs.
One group of kids sat and worked on building circuits, saying they hope to one day become an engineer.
“I heard it was fun to be an engineer because you get to build things and do a lot of things,” one kid said.
“By being able to open facilities like this and being able to engage kids at an early age it can be a positive experience and down the road it can be a positive experience for our community,” said director of Baltimore City Recs and Parks Reginald Moore.
The renovation was funded by the University of Maryland Medical Center. The mayor and city officials called on other community partners to do the same so they can continue to open and renovate more rec centers throughout Baltimore.
As for the Harlem Rec Center, it will operate pop-up programs through August and become fully operational in September.