Youth agency to aid city community Boys, Girls Clubs to open in Pleasant View Gardens

January 02, 1998|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

First the Lafayette Courts public housing project got a new look. Then it got a new name.

Now the community of handsome red-brick rowhouses on the city's eastern edge -- recently christened Pleasant View Gardens -- is welcoming the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Maryland.

The nonprofit agency announced plans Tuesday to provide academic and recreational activities for children living in the townhouse development and the surrounding area. The club is expected to open by early next month and plans to serve 1,000 to 2,000 children a year.

"Our mission is to help the children develop to their full potential, give them a sense of self-esteem and belonging," said Paul Shelton, chairman of the club's board of directors. "It's not just recreational programs that we're talking about. There will be a strong focus on academics and character-building."

Tenant association President Linda Love said she was looking ++ forward to the arrival of the club, which also offers services to children at the Flag House Courts, Douglass Homes, Perkins Homes, Somerset Court and Latrobe Homes public housing projects.

"We think it's a good idea," she said. "I think the Boys and Girls Club has an excellent program, from what I've heard from the residents of Flag House, and the kids are really excited about having the recreation center open. We're hoping it will create some jobs for residents, since we have been declared a self-sufficient site."

Lafayette Courts was the first public housing high-rise project in Baltimore to be razed and will be one of the nation's first federally funded replacement projects to be finished. The 807-unit community was demolished in August 1995 to make room for Pleasant View Gardens.

The new $105 million development was designed to resemble a traditional Baltimore neighborhood, with 228 rowhouses, 110 apartments for the elderly, a day care center, and a recreation and community center.

The Boys and Girls Club will be housed in the 18,000-square-foot recreation and community center. The club will feature a new gymnasium, educational and recreational programs for youths between the ages of 6 and 18, and the Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues computer learning center.

Bogues, a former Dunbar High School basketball player, has committed about $40,000 to the club, Shelton said.

The operating budget for the club is expected to be about $260,000 a year, Shelton said. The money will be used to pay for the club's insurance, salaries and supplies -- from books and Band-Aids to paper. The agency's policy is to have an adult supervisor for every 25 children.

Additional funding will come from membership dues, private donations and a $100,000 start-up grant awarded to the club by its parent organization, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. The East Baltimore club is the result of a partnership with the Housing Authority of Baltimore City and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Maryland serves more than 3,000 children annually in the city. The organization has provided services to residents of public housing since 1968.

Pub Date: 1/02/98

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