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Baltimore Investing $41M In ARPA Funds In Recreation And Parks, Part Of $120M Improvement Plan

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Baltimore City will put $41 million of its American Rescue Plan Act funds into recreation and parks, part of what Mayor Brandon Scott called a $120 million investment in the city's rec centers, playgrounds, pools, trails and playing fields.

Baltimore City Recreation and Parks will use the federal money to put approximately $10 million toward public pools, $20 million toward recreation centers, $5 million toward playgrounds, $1 million toward trails, and $2 million toward athletic fields and courts, the mayor's office announced Tuesday.

The mayor said his plan includes money allocated by the city in Fiscal Year 2022 and Fiscal Year 2023, plus additional from the state government, nonprofit organizations and local businesses.

Recreation and parks facilities have suffered from a "systemic lack of investment" over the years, Scott's office said, with the centers closed by the city, athletic fields that are overused and pools that are deteriorating.

"This announcement is about showing our residents, especially our young people, that we see them, we recognize their needs and are committed to their total well-being," the mayor said.

Over the last several years, Baltimore has reopened three centers that were previously closed, including the Towanda Rec Center in Park Heights, the Bocek Park Rec Center in Madison-Eastend, and the Hilton Rec Center in Carroll-South Hilton, and a new fitness and wellness center in Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park. Renovations and improvements to the pool at Druid Hill Park are near completion, with the facility set to open this summer.

Reginald Moore, executive director of Baltimore City Recreation and Parks, said the department is in the midst of a five-year plan, Rec 2025, to modernize the agency's operations and spaces.

Throughout the pandemic, the parks department had to be flexible, first closing centers to stop the spread of the virus and then helping with programs such as meal distribution or partnering with the school system to open learning centers, he said.

Scott recalled how important the Towanda Rec Center was in his childhood.

"I know firsthand the profound positive impact that the Department of Recreation and Parks can have on our communities, on our young people and our families," he said. "When you ask residents in Baltimore, what we need to invest in in order to improve our city and make our city better, especially for our families and our young people, they will tell you very quickly: Rec and Parks. No questions, without hesitation."

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