Progress has been slow at the Douglass Community Center (DCC). The $250,000 allocated in the current year’s budget for fire safety and accessibility issues has been tapped into for mold testing, mold remediation, and an expensive structural analysis. Metro Parks is concerned that water leaking into the basement over years has caused structural damage, however, the SOC has consulted with other architects who have explained that this is highly unlikely and were at a loss to imagine a scenario where that would occur. Other structural concerns include load bearing limitations in a structure built as a family home but being used for group activities. Modifications can be made to reinforce the structure for higher density use, if needed, but the question of investing tax payer dollars arises. Metro Parks says they are willing to have that discussion, and so are we. We believe the Douglass Community Center is worth the investment.
We are continuing to work with Metro Councilman Tom Owen as well as State Representative Mary Lou Marzian. Both were seeking funding for the Douglass Community Center, but final budgets were not ready when this newsletter went to press. However, money isn’t the only problem. When Parks Director Seve Ghose spoke at the HDNA Annual Meeting, he commented on the low rates of attendance for programming outside of Adapted and Inclusive Recreation(AIR) asking, “So, how do you justify keeping a facility open if you’re not, if you don’t even avail it at the minimum levels?” Luckily, he seemed willing to give the DCC a chance. He promised longer hours and increased programming at all community centers. AIR recently moved to the Berrytown YMCA. That will open up time and programming opportunities. Let’s show Parks that we love our center by using it! The more people use it, the harder it will be for Parks to close it, and the more likely they are to invest in its future.
While we were sad to see the Adapted and Inclusive Recreation program leave the Douglass Community Center, it is exciting to think of the new opportunities that await. The two staff remaining at the Center, Joey Blankenship and Chaz Bullard, are looking forward to the challenge of finding programming to fit the needs of the future users of the DCC. They welcome suggestions, and the Highlands-Douglass Neighborhood Association is doing a survey (www.highlandsdouglass.org/soc-survey) to see what people want. Metro Parks has also formed a citizens advisory panel for the Douglass Community Center, and HDNA board members will serve on that panel.