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Local recreation center vital to East Cleveland's youth in dire need of a pricey makeover

Posted at 7:59 AM, Mar 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-03 10:00:54-05

Around 3 o’clock every day in East Cleveland, kids head over to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center—a place they say is a safe spot to go after school.

They laugh, play basketball, get homework done and just spend time with each other.

“We all get along here, it’s not a lot of problems in here, once you come here it’s like no problems,” said Rebekah Crawford a junior at Shaw High School who attends the rec center almost every day.

But the facility that she loves is in dire need of a pricey makeover. Busted flooring, lighting issues and equipment being held together by duct tape, all things the kids have to work around when they play in the center.

“The challenges we face are very well known,” Belinda Kyle, Executive Assistant with the East Cleveland Mayor’s Office.

Those challenges she referred to are mostly financial, which is something she says is always top of mind.

“The challenges of a community that's struggling to generate the revenue needed,” she said.

The money needed to fix all the issues in the center, could possibly cost as much as $500,000, and the question is, does the city have the money to take care of it?

“Well we definitely have the funding for the floor at this time,” said Kyle, though she wouldn’t disclose how much or when it would be fixed.

Meanwhile, the problems aren’t stopping kids like Shaw High School Senior Marshawn Johnson.

“We still hoop, we still play full court like nothing is there,” he said.

He and his peers say the center is the only spot they know where they can just be worry-free.

“We get off a lot a lot of energy and plus you know there’s nothing good outside on the streets so that’s why we come here,” he said.

Right now, there is a committee of community members who have banded together to try to figure out how to raise money for the changes.