State Funds For Rec Center

July 14, 2009|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,annie.linskey@baltsun.com

Baltimore will use $1.2 million in state capital funds to build a new recreation center in Clifton Park, and officials say they are optimistic that money will become available to operate the facility once it opens in two years, despite recent gloomy revenue projections.

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown handed city officials an oversized ceremonial check for the planned facility at a news conference Monday afternoon, and said the new recreation center makes good on one of the "handful" of campaign promises that he and Gov. Martin O'Malley made to "restore and renovate facilities so we can better enjoy open space."

But the state now is trying to cut another $700 million from its budget this fiscal year, causing city officials to fret that the amount it contributes to Baltimore's already battered budget will suffer further cuts.Brown would not commit any state funds to operate the facility when it opens, saying he expects an economic recovery by summer 2011, when construction of the new recreation center would be complete.

"Maryland is going to pull out of this economic downturn," Brown said.

Recreation and Parks Director Wanda S. Durden was also optimistic that future budgets will be less constrained. "We won't build anything that we can't maintain and operate," she said.

The new building will be constructed inside an existing pavilion at 2700 Saint Lo Drive and will include a computer room, a kitchen and a multipurpose room.

The addition to Clifton Park comes in the wake of Mayor Sheila Dixon's decision to curtail a number of rec programs, including shuttering two Police Athletic League centers and a recreation center, to help close a $65 million budget gap this year. She transferred two other PAL centers and two other rec centers to the city school system to save city operating funds.

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