Comptroller Joan M. Pratt, also a spending board member, did not respond to a request for comment.

Dante Wilson, executive director of Reclaiming Our Children and Community Project Inc., said he had received a call from the city Monday advising him that the deal was set to go before the Board of Estimates on Wednesday. He said he had not been told that the matter would be deferred.

Wilson said that under his proposal, programs for ex-offenders and mentally ill people would occur during the day, when children would be in school and not using the center.

"By the time the young people get to the center, the ex-offender population would be gone," Wilson said.

The centers and the schools to which they are attached have separate entrances, he said, and the group would install cameras and other security systems.

"We want to be a community center and meet the needs of the community at large," said Wilson. Under his proposal, the center would obtain a large part of its operating budget through federal and state programs and would also serve seniors, people transitioning off welfare and at-risk youth during the day.

Traditional recreation center programs, such as sports and dance classes, would be offered in the evenings and on weekends, according to the group's proposal.

Little Dimples II would also seek funds from government programs for after-school care. It would charge parents $265 monthly for before- and after-school programs and $75 weekly for a summer camp.

"We believe [a] before/afterschool program that utilizes state/federal … funds in the form of purchase of care vouchers will generate enough revenue to cover the operating needs of the center," the group's bid says.

Little Dimples II's director, Thomas Hardnett Jr., did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

The city has struggled to find bidders to run the centers and recently released a second request for proposals seeking more groups that would like to run a center.

Some nonprofit groups said they thought the city's terms were onerous, since operators were required to procure $5 million in insurance and fully pay for salaries and utilities.

Rawlings-Blake has warned that the city does not have enough money to run all of the centers past the end of the year, and has threatened to close as many as 10.

Her adminstration cut about $300,000 from the recreation budget for the current fiscal year, one of many trims to the city's budget as a result of a $60 million shortfall.

julie.scharper@baltsun.com

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