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Rec Centers Will Stay Open

Residents expressed their frustration with the city and its handling of recreation centers during a Baltimore City Council subcommittee hearing.

The message from the Department of Recreation and Parks on Wednesday night was clear. They don’t plan on shutting any recreation centers this fiscal year.

“The focal point today is that centers are not closing,” Bill Tyler, bureau chief of recreation, told members of the Baltimore City Council’s Recreation and Parks Subcommittee.

But to keep all 55 recreation centers open and deal with a $300,000 shortfall in the Department of Recreation and Parks' budget in the second half of fiscal year 2012, the department may have to open only some centers after school.

Tyler also announced on Wednesday that the city is putting out a second request for proposal to try and find more private partners to run recreation centers. A request for proposal is the process governments often go through when seeking private vendors.

Supporters of two recreation centers in North Baltimore—DeWees Recreation Center and —voiced their displeasure with the city.

Sandy McFadden, of Mid-Govans, told council members that closing DeWees Recreation Center shouldn’t be an option. She said the center isn’t in dilapidated or bad shape, like many of the city’s properties.

“But it will be if this building is allowed to sit vacant,” McFadden said.

Lisa O’Reilly, who spoke on behalf of the York Road Partnership, criticized the city’s process of finding private partners to run recreation centers. She also criticized the impact any loss of recreation centers could have on communities.

“Community centers are the heart of communities,” O’Reilly said. 

Genny Dill, president of the Roosevelt Recreation Center Council, told the city that the Hampden community had paid to have the recreation center revitalized and developed their community’s master plan around the center.  

“How dare you RFP this out to some stranger,” Dill said.

Hampden resident George Peters also criticized the city and accused it of being short sighted.

“What I’m seeing tonight is a Baltimore City that is shirking its responsibility to its future,” Peters said.

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