Report from Tuesday’s Park View Rec Center Meeting

Books from the reading area were strewn about the floor with abandon

Tuesday’s community meeting with DPR on March 20th got off to an ominous start when the building was opened only to find it had been vandalized. Books were strewn about the place, garbage had been dumped out of a trash can, and the arts room was in shambles with paints splashed about. As the building was thought to be locked up tight since the Saturday Crime Meeting on the 17th, it was presumed that someone still had a key as there was no sign of forced entry. By now, DPR has most likely changed the locks on the building.

With only two days to get the word out about the meeting, it wasn’t as heavily attended as it might have been … still, it was a good meeting if for no other reason than to better understand why the rec center had closed and to learn what DPR’s next steps would be.

The one thing that is clear is that the Park View Rec Center has hit rock bottom and that a lot of work will be required to turn it around. Sadly, most of the attendees in the meeting were residents who have lived in the community for ten years or less — although there were one or two well established residents among those assembled. While some were concerned that the community that uses the facility the most were not in attendance, DPR Ward 1 and 2 Manager Gayle Ward unequivocally stated that they were aware of the meeting and chose to send a few representatives rather than attend themselves.

A corner of the craft room with black paint splashed about

In short, the current plan is that Tuesday’s meeting will be the first of many meetings to focus on much needed improvements. The facility also will be closed until the athletic field renovations are done in mid-June. The majority of those present agreed that this was a good approach. While this approach did not sit well with everyone, one MPD officer in attendance familiar with the recreation center at Sursum Corda stated that in his opinion closing until June was exactly what was needed in Park View and was one of the approaches they used in Sursum Corda to turn that center around.

Ms. Ward also asked the community members present if they were willing to commit and put in the hard work necessary to fix things at Park View. In response I made it clear to Ms. Ward that I was willing to put in the work as long as DPR was truly committed to doing their part. Park View has long-standing issues that no one has been willing to address. Because of years of neglect, we now have a community of “us and them” where a man in his early 30s told one resident of 8 years that the rec center didn’t belong to him because he hadn’t lived in the community long enough. When the gentleman asked how long he needed to live there to have “ownership”, he was merely told he was getting there.

This is more than a poorly funded, poorly staffed, and poorly programmed DPR facility. The City has allowed a culture with deeply rooted issues — including public drinking, drug use, and crap games —  to flourish and thrive on and off for 30 years.  There is a feeling of hopelessness and neglect, in part because of promises made by former Ward 1 Councilmember Frank Smith and others that were never carried out. The years of broken promises have only served to further disenfranchise those that are now witnessing community improvements as the neighborhood diversifies.

The next step is for DPR to host a Youth Town Hall meeting to try and reach the youth and stakeholders that were unaware or unwilling to come to Tuesday’s meeting. The outcome of the town hall will indicate when the next community-wide meeting will be and its agenda.

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6 Comments on “Report from Tuesday’s Park View Rec Center Meeting”

  1. julesONPrinceton Says:

    Kent, I understand the center itself was closed but what about the entire facility? Things there are out of control between 7-10pm every night. Worse than I’ve ever seen. Cars lined up on the street with people hanging out in them…dime bags everywhere.

    • Kent Says:

      I’ve been working on that too. From a conversation I had with DPR today, the gates will be locked and the park unavailble earlier in the evening. It may even be closed later this afternoon for the entire weekend. I’ve reached out to MPD and DPR to let them know that if the park is open, it needs patrols and supervision.

      All of it should be fenced in on or around April 2nd for the field renovations.

  2. mb Says:

    thanks for putting the meeting together Kent. it was helpful to put all the issue on the table. To the previous poster, I totally agree that the rec center is still out of control. My understanding is that the outside portion is supposed to close at 9pm and the gates locked. At 9:45 last night there were still at least 30-40 people inside and another 15 hanging out front. I called the police. They showed up about 5 minutes later and the drug dealers scattered but it was still full of people on the inside and the cops drove off. We need to know who is responsible for locking it up every single night. I hate to say it but I am really looking forward to the renovation just for some peace and quiet. (and hoping the renovations take longer than June).

  3. ParkViewRES Says:

    I’m apologize for being late to the game, but I wonder what Jim Graham’s reponse to all this has been?

  4. Tom Gallo Says:

    Close it! If we want this community to thrive, we need to stop giving these undesirable people the venues and tools to misbehave.


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