Could the School and Rec Center Properties be United to Enhance the Conditions at Both?

The section of Otis Place between the school and recreation center

The Park View Recreation Center is a facility that tends to fall short of community expectations across the board. This is not to say that there haven’t been improvements over the last few years.

This past season, the Rec Center has received a pool table, ping pong table, art supplies, and new computers. This has been in response to community activism, including a very involved youth population in conjunction with the Youth Power Network that uses the facilities, working through DPR and Councilmember Graham.

Outside of the building, there is a new mural and the pool received an overhaul at the beginning of the season. There is also$1.2M dedicated to the site that was obtained for the purpose of a new playing field and resurfaced basketball court.

Yet, I can’t help but feel that these are all band aids. Rather that commit lesser amounts of money to address a basketball court or upgrade a swimming pool, DPR and the city need to look at this property with the goal of coming up with a master plan of what an ideal community center on this property should look like. From that point, working backward, dedicated funds could then be applied to implement that plan without spending good money after bad.

One idea that I’ve shared on occasion is the closing of Otis Place between the school and playground. Closing a street is not a simple thing and would not be without its critics. Being a one-way street, to assist with traffic flow it would also make sense to extend 6th Street behind the Rec Center and connect with Princeton Place. This would give residents the ability to still get to Otis Place without having to drive on Georgia Avenue. A general idea of what this would look like is in the image below.

Concept plan showing the extension of 6th and closing of Otis between the Rec Center and school

I found it interesting that this is not a new idea. The closing of Otis and uniting the property with the adjacent playground was first proposed in 1928, but was opposed by the Georgia Avenue Business men.  It was raised again in 1962.

In May of 1962 the Board of Education requested that the District Commissioners take action to close the portion of Otis Place adjacent to the recreation center making the land available for joint use. This proposal was met with disapproval from the Pleasant Plains Civic Association in September. This disapproval was followed on October 17, 1962, by Carl L. Shipley, Republican chairman for the District, suggesting that serious consideration be given to acquiring the homes behind the school along 6th Street and adding that property to the school for playground use to prevent the closing of Otis. This resulted in the Board of Education withdrawing its request entirely.

Beyond people’s natural resistance to change, is there a practical reason not to extend 6th and close one block of Otis? The extended street would take very little property away from the playground, whereas uniting the property with the school would greatly enhance the usable greenspace for the community.

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11 Comments on “Could the School and Rec Center Properties be United to Enhance the Conditions at Both?”

  1. Patrick Says:

    That makes a ton of sense. Can’t imagine there’d be much car traffic displaced since Otis doesn’t continue through Georgia, and it wouldn’t inconvenience anyone if you could make it two-ways between Warder and Park Place.

  2. warderst Says:

    I think this is a good idea too. As a resident with small children I feel that the Rec Center could be a great resource if there were some changes and updates. We especially need more toddler equipment and swings. A co-op daycare in the rec center would be nice too. Turtle Park in AU park, Macomb park and Stead Park are great examples of what our Rec Center and playground area could be if the community works together.

  3. JulesonPrinceton Says:

    As a property owner directly impacted by this proposal, I am against it. I fail to see the added benefit of taking away a significant part of the field to build a cut-thru street with sidewalks. Plus, it looks like Otis would still connect with Georgia so I fail to see how there wouldn’t be car traffic.

    • IMGoph Says:

      JulesonPrinceton: The benefit would be that children would have full access to the grounds of the school and the rec center, and be able to get from one to another, without crossing a street, running the risk of coming in contact with traffic. Sure, there would still be traffic on all streets (6th, Warder, Otis, Princeton), but kids wouldn’t have to deal with that traffic to get from one to the other.

      It appears that the amount of the field that would be taken away to extend 6th would come back from the closing of Otis. Not a net loss or gain in square footage.

      • JulesonPrinceton Says:

        Yes, I can see why a change like this might be proposed but your last sentence was my main point. I’m just asking that the concerns of the impacted homeowners be heard too. Also, on weekdays groups of kids (escorted by adults) walk up Princeton Pl from Ga Ave past my house to get to the rec center. With 6th extended, they would have one more intersection to cross.

        Off topic a bit, but what’s up with the tagging I am seeing on the Princeton side of the rec center. Seen it twice now but not sure if this was one incident not cleaned up or actually two separate.

  4. db Says:

    i rarely ever see cars on Otis. That whole patch (park to princeton) is inhospitable to thru traffic off Georgia Ave.

    But i wouldn’t suggest digging up 6th.

  5. Bruce Monroe @ Parkview ES Teacher Says:

    It would be very beneficial to our school community to close Otis Street because our children wouldn’t have to cross the street to get to the playground for recess and we might gain more green space or a larger play area or even another play ground.
    One consideration to ponder, how would delivery trucks and garbage trucks get to the school?


  6. […] Last August I posed the question on whether or not closing a portion of Otis Place to connect the school and recreation center properties was a good idea or not. Since it was unclear at the time if the school was destined to be modernized or closed, I dreamed large and not only closed the entire block but cut in a new road at the rear of the recreation center’s property. […]


  7. […] with the neighboring recreation center. To this point, I furthered that this could require the closing of Otis Place which would need to be studied. Additionally, I suggested that management of the Park View […]


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