Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby said he is trying to set up a community meeting, possibly next week, to discuss the closing of the Roosevelt Park Recreation Center for up to a month to repair a broken water line.
The city Department of Recreation and Parks closed the Roosevelt Park center at Falls Road and West 36th Street on March 28 after the kitchen drainage pipe broke, said spokeswoman Kia McLeod.
A sign on the front door says, "Center closed until further notice due to mechanical repair emergencies."
City work crews have since dug up an area 10 feet long and three feet wide, McLeod said.
"It's just a matter of replacing the pipe," she said. But in a worst case scenario, the work could take as long as a month, she said.
The city is using two private contractors, Mitchell Plumbing and Young's Flooring, to do the repairs, McLeod said. She said she has no best-case timetable or cost estimates yet.
The pipe broke during spring break for city schools and caused flooding in the building, McLeod said. The building, a former bath house that dates to the early 1900s, renovated in 2006 at a cost of $1.4 million.
Students returned to classes this week and now, those students in the closed center's after-school program are being shuttled to the nearby Medfield Recreation Center. However, that arrangement is only for children in the after-school center.
"They will be able to resume all the activities they did at Roosevelt," McLeod said.
Mosby said his understanding is that it could be weeks before the Roosevelt Park rec center reopens.
"From what I hear, it's significant damage. It's nothing that can be fixed in three days," Mosby said. He said he wants to tour the building with Recreation and Parks officials to assess the damage.
Mosby also said he wants to hold a community meeting to update families that use the center on its condition and the timetable for reopening it.
Fran Ward, president of the rec council, could not be reached for comment. Center director Joshua Fissell, who is working out of the Medfield center, declined to comment and referred calls to McLeod.
Felicia Doucett, director of the Medfield center, said there is "plenty of room" for the after-school program children from the Roosevelt Park center.
Rumors have circulated in the neighborhood that the city Health Department ordered the center closed, but McLeod said Recreation and Parks made the decision, and a Health Department spokeswoman said, "We have no information on it."
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, is a sore subject for some residents, who still remember fighting to save it in 2011, when the city was considering closing numerous rec centers to save money. Residents staged at least one protest, in which they waved signs at Falls and 36th
"Roosevelt is a very active recreation center and has a very active rec council," Mosby said. "What I want folks to expect is more communication and details about where we are" with the repair process.
"We want the city to tell us when it's cleaned up," said past rec council president Genny Dill. "When are we going to reopen?"