To Keith Lester, an empty, 6,000 square foot building with white interior walls and a concrete floor is the answer to teenage boredom in Brooklyn Center. That's because, in a matter of weeks, the facility, located right next door to Brooklyn Center High School, will be home to the city's first youth recreation center.
"[It's] something that we felt Brooklyn Center needed," said Lester, who recently retired as superintendent of Brooklyn Center Schools, but is serving as interim superintendent while the district looks for his replacement. "If there’s a youth recreation sport that can be done in here, it will."
The school district has paired up with the city of Brooklyn Center to build and run the facility. They used a $304,000 Hennepin County youth recreation grant to build the structure. Lester said they'll need about $50,000 more to pay for add-ons, such as bathrooms, sporting equipment and a finished floor. He said they will rely on capital bond money and donations for those expenses.
The Brooklyn Center Youth Recreation Center will hold open gym and other non-school related activities. The Brooklyn Center Parks and Recreation Department will handle scheduling for the facility. Lester said open gym nights will likely be supervised by volunteers. The school district and the city are also in talks to possibly share the space with youth organizations, such as Youth Determined to Succeed and The Sanneh Foundation.
While the youth center is still missing a floor and large sports equipment, Lester says the plan is to open the facility for limited use in the next few weeks.
"I would love to have it so that on a weekend, it’s a rainy day and there’s nothing else scheduled, and kids just need some place to go and run off some steam, come on over," said Lester.
August 20, 2012