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A place to play

"I would have the kids here, but they can't get here. That's the problem," Hawthorne said.

Hawthorne noted that the originally planned structure had been reduced by 5,000 square feet, leaving one-third acre of green space. The existing spray park and playground would remain as well.

With replacing the Southside fields, the center's plan would include two full-sized basketball courts, locker rooms, a walking track and community spaces.

The center was previously slated to be constructed on Weibel Avenue, but was moved to the Southside location at Vanderbuilt Avenue and Worth Street because of its accessibility, said Terricola at a previous meeting.

The new location would allow residents to access the center by foot or bike, eliminating safety concerns about kids walking along busy Route 9, as well as reducing the strain placed on working families to transport kids seeking recreation to various sites around the city " one of several reasons resident Robert Fusco said he supported the center at the Southside location.

Fusco said the recreation center could consolidate programs and provide kids with supervised alternatives to hanging on the streets.

At the close of the public hearing and during the break that followed while council members convened in an executive session, residents could not agree in whose back yard the center should be built in, but there was little question that one was needed.

"I'm not opposed to a rec center," said Brown. "Just like you or I did, kids are just being kids. Ultimately, they just want to be able to go outside and play.""

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