Clergy, residents complain about dilapidated recreation centers | Local News

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The Waterview Recreation Center in East Germantown is meant to be a beacon of hope for the surrounding community – a resource for children to participate in after-school activities, educational programs, and athletic opportunities.

But the facility has deteriorated, as have several other recreation centers in Philadelphia’s black communities.

Philadelphia’s black clergy held a press conference Wednesday to call attention to dangerous and understaffed facilities and to condemn the city for the lack of safe spaces for young people in city neighborhoods.

Rev. Gregory Holston, senior advisor to District Attorney Larry Krasner, says the issue is citywide.

“When we were here in April, we toured the building,” said Holston. “We looked at the gym and saw that there was a lot of water damage in the gym. … We looked and saw parts of the facility, many parts of the facility in poor condition.

Closed or lacking housekeeping recreation centers do not offer alternative solutions for adolescents and young adults in black communities plagued by gun violence.

“Recreation centers are desperately needed as shelters from gun violence,” said Reverend Robert Collier, president of the black clergy.

“Instead, they are too often dangerous and dilapidated buildings, with too few staff, too few programs and too few magnets for drug use. All of us, government, philanthropy and the corporate sector, must come together to provide the resources needed to bring more hope to our children. “

The Black Clergy organization has adopted Waterview as their premier recreation center where they will help oversee change and move forward into a better community asset.

“Recreation centers offer a solution to curb the spread of the gun violence pandemic,” Collier said. “Since last spring, we have been advocating for an increase in the budget for recreation centers, in particular those in postal codes where armed violence is omnipresent.”

Used drug paraphernalia has been found within reach of children playing in Waterview. In the afternoons, adults who do not represent positive choices are often in sight of children.

“Our children deserve better,” said Reverend Jeanette Davis of the DIVAS ministry and member of the black clergy.

“They deserve better. And they deserve to be safe. They deserve to attend an establishment that (…) is well maintained and has operational equipment, which has increased police presence and adequate personnel, public safety issues. Parents and community members should not be afraid to send their children to the recreation center to participate in programs and workshops.

Critics say funding is scattered around neighborhoods and communities that aren’t hardest hit by gun violence, and recreation centers that aren’t maintained are getting funds that could be used elsewhere to provide spaces. safe for adolescents and young adults.

“We received $ 1 billion, $ 1.4 billion in US relief funds that were allocated by the city,” Holston said.

“And the reality is that dollars have been spent. It was a big celebration recently at FDR Park in South Philadelphia. They’re going to spend $ 50 million there, and they’re going to spend $ 50 million there for a park that’s not located where gun violence is most active.

Community members said they felt left out by Waterview staff. For example, youth leagues do not represent children in the community. In addition, neighborhood organizations are not able to hold meetings in the establishment.

Ollie Tansimore Jr. has been a neighborhood captain for decades and lives across the street from Waterview. He said he pleaded for meetings but encountered resistance and authorities even called him.

“The city has forgotten about us, and that’s why we have the crime rate. We need the recreation centers to be reopened, ”Tansimore said. “Don’t just bring sports, bring academic stuff here, for students to come in for homework, tutoring, reading help. More academically productive students.

The black clergy have demanded that $ 10 million be allocated to the recreation center and have the support of Senator Art Haywood (4th district) and city council member Cindy Bass (8th district).

“This is going to require everyone to work together, but I can promise you, the black clergy of Philadelphia, will not be silent,” Collier said.

“I take off the boxing gloves because I’m sick of being sick and tired of my kids being killed. I can take you all over the city of Philadelphia, I can show you recreation centers in state A-1, but that’s not where blacks and browns are being killed. They are all run down. All are in need of repair. We will change that.

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