Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

Meetings seek input on new south Clinton community center

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For Tamara Davis-Brown and the residents of the Windbrook community, the new community center in south Clinton can’t come soon enough.

The center has barely reached the planning stages, but Donald Herring, a planner with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, said community meetings will be held to discuss exactly what residents want in the center before an architect is named April 1.

No dates have been set for the meetings.

‘‘There is a lack of community centers in south county,” Davis-Brown said. ‘‘We wanted a dedicated community center in south Clinton to provide full service throughout the day and throughout the year.”

Davis-Brown said the closest existing community center is at Stephen Decatur Middle School in Clinton. But because it is attached to the school, some of the facilities are not available during the day or when sports teams are practicing. Plus, the center can be a little too far for children in the southern part of Clinton to reach conveniently.

Mary Forsht, a south Clinton resident, said the new center is welcome because the southern part of Prince George’s County rarely gets the amenities other parts of the county get.

‘‘Down here, we have nothing for the teenagers,” Forsht said. ‘‘It’s no wonder we don’t have more trouble than we do. It will be an excellent place to take children.”

Herring said most community centers are equipped with administrative space, a game room, a gymnasium, an exercise room, a computer room, a multi-purpose room and an arts and crafts room.

The options aren’t set in stone, Herring said, but they are the basic amenities in most community centers.

‘‘The community meetings will give the residents the chance to tailor the center to their community’s needs,” Herring said.

Each facet would be looked at for its viability and cost effectiveness in the community. For example, if residents want a pool in the south Clinton center, Herring said they would have to take into account that the county-owned Allentown Splash Park is just around the corner in Temple Hills.

‘‘This community center will serve the needs of south Clinton residents,” Herring said. ‘‘And through these meetings, we will be able to massage these standard options to what the residents want.”

Davis-Brown said she would also recommend adding more walking trails and sidewalks so children have easy access to the center. Inside the center she would like to see an area for events, a dance studio and a tech center for computer classes as well as the standard amenities.

The 22,000-square foot complex is expected to cost about $7.2 million, Herring said.

Money for the project is budgeted in the county’s Capital Improvement Program. A total of $2 million has been set aside, and another $225,000 will become available in July, Herring said. The rest of the money will come as the project starts to be built with at least $2 million coming from developer contributions.

‘‘The initial $2 million will be enough to get a good start,” Herring said.

The project, to be built on the southern portion of Cosca Regional Park, is expected to be complete by 2011.