Roosevelt Park rec center reopens a month after water pipe break

Children 'relieved' to be back in familiar setting after using Medfield Heights center temporarily

April 25, 2013|By Larry Perl,

The Roosevelt Park Recreation Center reopened Wednesday after being closed for about a month because of a broke water pipe.

"I missed it," said Gabrielle Barnes, 10, a third grader from Hampden Elementary/Middle School. She was one of 14 children who returned to the center for after-school enrichment activities. Usually, that number is about 25, but some families might not have gotten the message yet that the center was reopen, director Joshua Fissel said.

The pipe was repaired at a cost of $10,000, said Kia McLeod, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks. The work included ripping up and repairing the kitchen floor.

In addition, the department took the opportunity to spring-clean the center, including waxing the floors, said Bob Wall, acting chief of recreation and chief of youth and adult sports.

The city closed the recreation center at Falls Road and West 36th Street on March 28 after the kitchen drainage pipe broke during spring break for public schools. The building, a former bath house that dates to the early 1900s, was renovated in 2006 at a cost of $1.4 million, but the breaking of a pipe was unforeseen.

"Nobody can predict that," Wall said.

Fissel said the children had watched most of the fantasy movie "Willow" at the center on the last Friday before spring break and he had planned to show them the end of the movie when they returned a werek later, but a week turned into a month after the pipe broke unexpectedly. Fridays are movie days at the center.

Once spring break was over and students returned to school, those students in the Roosevelt Park center's after-school program were shuttled to the nearby Medfield Heights Recreation Center temporarily.

The Roosevelt Park center is also a popular meeting place for community groups and candidates' forums. The Hampden Community Council, which meets monthly in the multipurpose room, was forced to change venues April 1 to the Hampden United Methodist Church, located across from Roosevelt Park on Falls Road.

The closing of the center, even temporarily, was a sore subject for some residents, who still remember fighting to save it in 2011, when the city was considering closing numerous recreation centers to save money. Residents staged at least one protest, in which they waved signs at Falls and 36th.

Going to Medfield was a good stopgap measure, but the children were relieved to be back, Fissel said.

"When you go to another recreation center, you're like a guest in someone else's house," he said.

The reopening of the Hampden center comes in plenty of time for the scheduled start of Camp Baltimore on June 13. Camp Baltimore, which runs through August and costs $500 per child, is an event in which all city recreation centers participate. Roosevelt Park Recreation Center, where the staff has staged Camp Rock in recent years, will no longer be a performing arts center, but will have standard camp activities and Fissel said he is hoping to put on a variety show at the end of the camp.

Some of the city's other centers will have themed Camp Baltimore programs, including Medfield Heights, which will have an environmental theme, Fissel said.

The Medfield Heights center will be the site of the city's kickoff event for Camp Baltimore citywide McLeod said. At the event, the city will honor "rec stars," people who now work for the city, such as police officers and firefighters, who used city recreation centers when they were growing up, McLeod said.

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