BALTIMORE - Children have been a big part of Elaine Branch's life.
She had eight of her own, cared for six others and now has great grand children to worry her.
And they've all played here.
“Every Friday they would go on a trip it was just good for children to play they had tournaments it was just nice. ” Branch says.
The Harlem Park Recreation center has provided learning and rec programs for three generations of Branch's children, and thousands of neighborhood kids for 42 years.
But before summers end, the doors will be locked.
"The children are being victimized some other things can change that are less important than this. This is molding our future." Branch says.
Harlem Park is one of four rec centers slated to close within a few weeks because the Mayor's budget says there isn't money to keep them open.
All four, Harlem Park, Crispus Attucks, Park View and Central Rosemount are within about two to three miles of each other leaving a huge lack of youth programming right in the heart West Baltimore.
Parents at Rosemount say they don't get what the mayor is thinking.
“You close it down and the kids have nothing to do for the summer that's my biggest issue is there anyplace nearby they can play in it’s nothing, it's nothing." Maggie Dukes says
With the Mayor's budget in council's hands several members tried to save the centers bringing up amendments to keep several things
“That would generate two million dollars for rec centers and 925 thousand dollars for fire. ” Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke says.
With amendments going down to defeat, the actual vote on the budget t vote was a simple matter.
“I tried to work extra hard because the west side has a big gap a big hole and me being pro recreation I often told people if it weren't for rec’s and parks I wouldn't have been on the council person I doubt if I would have even been president I could have been a statistic." Council President Jack Young told reporters after the meeting. ”
The rec centers aren't the only youth programs getting the axe.
Funding for summer youth jobs cut.
Funding for afterschool programs cut.
Also three fire companies are slated to close down on July first.
Ten more rec centers, most in west Baltimore could also close if community partners don’t' step up to fund them.
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