Clergy to work with city on parks CURE group plans to start cleanup April 1

March 14, 1997|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

After months of planning and prayer, Clergy United for the Renewal of East Baltimore (CURE) will join forces with Baltimore City and local businesses to improve city parks and recreation centers.

With financial support and equipment donated by local businesses, the ecumenical alliance of 239 churches will begin its cleanup efforts of parks next month.

"Recreation has been lacking in Baltimore," the Rev. Melvin B. Tuggle II, CURE president and a Recreation and Parks Board Commissioner, said yesterday.

"As a result, children have no outlet for their energy. Our young people need to enjoy the outdoors and learn about sports like volleyball and baseball. We must give them the opportunity to direct their energy in a positive way."

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is expected to announce plans for the new partnership today, Tuggle said. The announcement would come days after city officials approved a new fee structure for parks. The increased rates, effective May 1, will mean at least $70,555 of additional revenue.

But those funds will not be enough to maintain the parks and recreation centers, said Marlyn J. Perritt, director of the city Department of Recreation and Parks. The department may face a $2 million decrease in funding during the next fiscal year, she said.

So hundreds of volunteers, many of them members of CURE churches, will hit the streets starting April 1. They will clean up parks and supervise activities at recreation centers.

"If a recreation center is suffering or having problems, we will assign a church to that center to provide volunteers and host activities," said Tuggle. He said CURE churches also would provide transportation to get young people to and from nearby centers.

"We welcome other businesses and organizations to join us," said Lloyd Mitchner, president of the recreation and parks board. "We have begun with the most stable organization in our community, the church. Keeping youth off the streets by offering them constructive alternatives is one of the best crime prevention tools available."

Tuggle added, "Recreation has not always been a primary focus for the church because we were dealing with so many other issues, such as unemployment and crime. As ministers, we realize we have an obligation to guide our youth."

CURE pastors and volunteers hope to do more than provide improved recreation centers and clean parks, he said. They want to promote education, provide free health screenings and disseminate information about HMOs.

nTC "Our vision is to create a better Baltimore for our youngsters," said Tuggle.

Pub Date: 3/14/97

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