Renovated Dundalk Rec Center Dedicated

July 28, 2009|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,

Baltimore County has given a 60-year-old community center in Dundalk a $10 million renovation to make it roomier, greener and more welcoming to all ages.

Officials dedicated the Dundalk Community Center Monday with speeches beside the 25-meter pool and tours of the 29,000-square-foot building.

"You took what you had and made it better," said Sally Wingo, spokeswoman for Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.

Many visitors recalled the run-down state of the two-story brick building in the Dundalk Village Center and marveled at the restoration. Seniors were working on a crafts project at the Young at Heart Club, while upstairs, several basketball players were honing their skills in the gymnasium. Just down the hall in the PAL Center, kids were engaged in lively games of billiards, table tennis and Scrabble.

"They just come in and know what to do," said Officer Mindy Levin of the Baltimore County Police.

Computer-equipped classrooms also offered game opportunities but are well-suited to homework tasks. A $400,000 federal contribution helped equip those classrooms. The state contributed $1.75 million to the project.

"I am just thrilled that they fixed it up and didn't shut it down," said Rebecca Gebhardt, who arrived at the dedication with her two young children. "I spent a lot of time here as a kid and just moved back. I hope to be here a lot."

County Executive James T. Smith Jr. said the center is part of Dundalk's renaissance and credited area residents with creating "this blueprint for transitioning this building into the 21st century." Use of recycled materials and installation of energy-efficient amenities have made the center the area's first "green" building, he said.

Smith thanked the crowd of more than 100 "for preserving the close-knit values of this historic community."

Councilman John Olszewski Sr., whose district includes Dundalk and Essex, recalled how 10 years ago the building was in disrepair, filled with mildew and a source of numerous complaints to his office.

"We have turned it into a gem," he said.

The YMCA, which opened the building in 1949 but left several years later, is returning to manage the pool and aquatic programs, similar to the operation of the pool at the Randallstown Community Center, which opened earlier this summer.

"Everyone can get their feet wet," said L. John Pearson, board chairman of the Y of Central Maryland.

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