10-10-11: The Privatization of Rec Centers
If you go to any of the rec centers in Baltimore City, you might find middle schoolers taking a cooking class, elders watching a movie, or 18 year olds lifting weights. In the future, it’s possible that center might not be under the management of Baltimore City – but of a private organization. This Wednesday, proposals are due to the city Parks Department to manage any of the 55 rec centers currently operating. Non-profits, private corporations, schools, and community groups are all able to make bids to help run any one of the centers. Gwen Chambers, a spokeswoman for the Parks Department, described the application process:
“It’s definitely a creative thing; it’s nothing that we’ve tried before. It’s not like you walk in, and say, hey I think I can do it. You have to have an established track record. So community groups, entities, corporations, anyone who has a proven track record of successfully running programming is certainly open to submitting a proposal.”
The privatization of rec centers comes at the recommendation of a task force, which convened in the summer of 2010. The Parks Department is facing budget issues, and the task force released a report stating that placing up to 25 of the city’s rec centers under private operations would save about $400,000 a year.
Sheilah talks about it with Mark Reutter, who’s been covering this for the Baltimore Brew.