City says bidders hope to run more rec centers

Baltimore officials said Thursday that they have received proposals to run more recreation centers than previously announced, but said the future of many centers remains in doubt because of budget constraints.

Seven groups submitted proposals Wednesday to run 16 city recreation centers, but bids covering 10 of those centers could be legally deficient, said Deputy Comptroller B. Harriette Taylor.

Taylor said she forwarded those bids, which were submitted by four organizations, to the law department for further review. She declined to specify why the bids appeared to be deficient.

City officials initially said they had received proposals for just seven centers.

A spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said it remains the case that if more groups do not step forward to pick up the cost of running the centers, the city would have no choice but to close some.

Recreation and Parks Department officials "will be carefully reviewing the bid proposals and working on next steps," spokesman Ryan O'Doherty said in an email.

Officials have said they need to turn over as many as 31 centers to third parties by Jan. 1, when the Recreation and Parks Department will no longer have money to operate them.

Recreation Director Bill Tyler said that he was surprised to learn that bids had been submitted for 16 centers, and said he planned to meet with the comptroller's office Friday.

The city runs 55 rec centers and owns six others that are either shuttered or in private hands. Rawlings-Blake has said the city should maintain 30 high-quality rec centers rather than a larger network of centers that are poorly maintained or understaffed.

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