The private-public partnership represents a new beginning for the center at a time when Baltimore MayorStephanie Rawlings-Blakeis carrying out plans to close four recreation centers as part of a $20 million plan to create a system of fewer but higher-quality centers, featuring updated facilities and expanded programs.
As of May, the city planned to build and renovate four state-of-art, centrally located “community centers,” operate 31 “improved” centers, and turn other centers over to private operators or schools, according to the Recreation and Parks website, http://bcrp.baltimorecity.gov.
Barclay, one of six recreation centers attached to schools, is no stranger to community, business and academic partnerships. Barclay Elementary/Middle, also known as the Barclay School, is one of 20 schools in the city that are classified by the school system as community schools.
The school has its own community school site coordinator, Kelly Oglesbee, who works for Greater Homewood. Her job is to develop partnerships at the school for everything from tutoring to providing eyeglasses for children who can’t afford them. Among the school’s 28 different partners are the Johns Hopkins Center for Social Concern and Goucher College.
“We’ve been involved with the school for many years,” said Karen DeCamp, Greater Homewood director of neighborhood programs.
Greater Homewood also provides site coordinators for Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle in Charles Village, Guilford Elementary and Wavery Elementary/Middle, DeCamp said.
Since Barclay Recreation Center is attached to the school, its transition to a community center would be beneficial to the community, DeCamp said..
“It would be a real tragedy to have that center sit empty,” she said. “We see that center as a real asset in the community that’s completely underutilized, with anemic programming. The goal s to have it serve not just the school, but the community.”
But DeCamp said community involvement in charting the center’s future is important, too.
“It’s going to have to be something that takes its cue from the community,” she said.