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Baltimore reopens recreation center in Park Heights

Baltimore officials reopened the city’s renovated Towanda Recreation Center Monday nearly four years after the community hub closed to the public.

Shuttered following an arson, the renovated center offers new amenities to the Park Heights neighborhood including a fitness room, teen lounge and reappointed gymnasium. A STEM center — one of only five in city recreation centers across Baltimore — has also been added and will offer science and technology-focused programming to city youth. The center’s outdoor basketball courts were also refinished during the renovation.

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Mayor Brandon Scott, who grew up in the neighborhood surrounding the center and was a frequent user, said it was particularly poignant to be a part of the ribbon cutting ceremony there Monday. Scott attended the school across the street from the center, now Creative City Public Charter School, which uses the center’s facilities as a gym.

City Council Vice President Sharon Green Middleton, Mayor Brandon Scott, director Reginald Moore and state Sen. Antonio Hayes pose in the newly reopened Towanda Recreation Center on October 18, 2021.
City Council Vice President Sharon Green Middleton, Mayor Brandon Scott, director Reginald Moore and state Sen. Antonio Hayes pose in the newly reopened Towanda Recreation Center on October 18, 2021. (Emily Opilo/Baltimore Sun)

“It was my outlet. It is the place where I came to be safe,” Scott said, giving a nod to the coaches at the facility that guided him into becoming a high school athlete.

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Baltimore City Council Vice President Sharon Green Middleton, who represents Park Heights, called the renovation of the center an example of “equity and equality in motion” in a neighborhood that has often been left behind.

“I just can’t say it enough how excited we are,” she said.

Reginald Moore, Baltimore’s director of recreation and parks, said the reopening of the center and another in Harlem Park that reopened in 2019 show the department’s commitment to addressing gaps in service. More plans are in the works for the Towanda center, he said, including adding an outdoor pool. The pool is in the final design stage, he said.

“I promise you brighter days to come for Baltimore City Recreation and Parks,” he said.

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Students from Creative City Public Charter School joined public officials for the end of Monday’s ribbon cutting ceremony, serenading the group with a song about kindness.

“Kindness is a word, you really need to know,” the tiny voices sang. “Kindness is the way to go.”

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