Baltimore City Unveils $185 Million Recreation Facility Upgrade Plan

A November 15, 2015, Baltimore Sun article announced that Baltimore City’s Department of Recreation and Parks has unveiled an ambitious plan to upgrade eight recreation centers for a total cost of more than $185 million. From the article:

Paul Taylor, chief of capital development for Baltimore’s Department of Recreation and Parks, is heading the effort. Taylor, who helped revitalize Atlanta’s Department of Parks and Recreation, said the changing demographics and needs of the communities surrounding the recreation centers have necessitated an overhaul of their purpose and design.

“We’ve got a different generation now,” he said. “We’ve got a digital generation, millennials, a lot of single professionals, single-parent families, a lot of seniors on the horizon. So all of those segments of society really need to be accommodated in terms of what you’re providing in programming, and that reflects the type of buildings you’re building and the types of parks you’re providing.”

The article outlined which facilities are targeted for renovation and upgrade, including: (1) the Cahill Performing Arts Center; (2) Druid Hill Park Aquatic Center; (3) Cherry Hill Fitness and Wellness Center (replacing the Patapsco Recreation Center and Cherry Hill indoor-pool facilities); (4) Morrell Park Community Center;  (5) Rita Church Fitness and Wellness Center; and (6) C.C. Jackson Fitness and Wellness Center. While several of the projects are finished or currently under construction, the article indicated that the overall implementation timetable was contingent on securing the necessary funding:

The project’s timetable will depend on how quickly the city can sell four parking garages and turn over the projected $40 million in revenue to the plan. With the funds, [Recreation and Parks Deputy Director William] Vondrasek estimated the building and renovations could be completed in six years. Without the funding, the proposals could take 10 to 15 years to implement.

Then there’s the matter of running and operating the centers. Vondrasek said the operational costs will require another $5 to $6 million annually, but said: “We think that’s inexpensive given what you’d be getting from all of these fitness and wellness centers and pools and athletic fields and complexes.”