Days after the department reopened rec centers on Saturdays for the first time in decades, Recreation and Parks is seeking public input for a five-year plan on programming at the facilities and ways to modernize them.
Officials will hold eight town hall meetings from Sept. 27 to Oct. 10, with a handful specifically designated for seniors and teenagers. There’s also a public survey on a website launched today for the initiative, called Rec 2025.
“We want to continue to move our needle,” Director Reginald Moore said at a press conference this morning. “We want to continue to identify and understand what the community expects of Rec and Parks.”
Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said more than 800 young people came out to recreation centers last Saturday, the first time they had been open on the weekend since the late 1970s.
The city council in June approved an additional $2.6 million for the department to expand center hours.
City Council President Brandon Scott said it was important to show people that, with the study, the city is committed to bringing rec center offerings into the 21st century.
“We know how much rec centers meant to me, how much they meant to the mayor growing up,” he said. “And we have to make sure that the young people are seeing this.”
Last month the city unveiled the newly renovated Harlem Park Rec Center, one of more than 20 that were shut down by Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s administration in 2011 and 2012. A handful of new ones were built or wholly renovated in the years since, including in Lake Clifton, Morrell Park, Cherry Hill and elsewhere.
Young said he would work with the council to identify more shuttered centers to reopen. There are currently 44 rec centers operating in the city, down from 130 in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
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