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Renovated Parkridge Center Being Unveiled This Week

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The Parkridge Community Center, with the new addition in the foreground


Renovated Parkridge Center being unveiled this week

NOV 2 1981

‘People will be in for a shock when they come here... Before, the center was just a hangout for some people. Now, activities will be programmed 12 hours a day.’

— Recreation chief Cheryl Pearo

By Jim Kane


YPSILANTI — It’s been a long time coming, but the eyesore known as the Parkridge Community Center has finally received a facelift.

Year-long work at the 40-year-old building, located at the corner of W. Harriet and Armstrong Streets on Ypsilanti’s southside, was recently completed. The en- tire project, including furnishing and equipment, cost $475,000, and the work was done by the Wacker & Tuthill Co. of Ann Arbor.

“People will be in for a shock when they come here,” said Cheryl Pearo, recreation division supervisor for the city. “You can’t do your own thing any- more. Before, the center was just a hangout for some people. The activities will be programmed 12 hours a day. Before, there was no structured programs.”

THE MONEY to renovate the 4,300 square foot building and to add another 2,600 square feet, came from a Community Block Grant through the federal government’s Small Cities Grant Program administered by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The original opening deadline, July 1, was delayed by a strike by sheetmetal workers.

City Council will tour the facilities and hold its meeting there at 7 p.m. tonight. A dedication followed by an open house will be held on Friday, and the program for that day will last from 12:30 to 8 p.m.

The center will be open to the public beginning Tuesday with hours from 1:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. The center will be closed on Sunday and Monday. However, the recreation offices will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for persons wishing to register for recreational classes.

The city’s recreation offices, formerly located at city hall, will also be found in the new center.

PEARO SAYS some of the neighborhood children have already been peering through the windows, anxiously trying to catch a glimpse of the interior. She will be among four full-time persons staffing the facility. The others are Calvin Lewis the center’s supervisor; Kelvin Justice, a recreation program assistant and Carrie Mattingly, office assistant and receptionist.

In recent years, the building had broken and boarded up windows, dirty walls, and torn curtains. Entrance was by a back door since the front and back doors were boarded up. The facilities then were limited: two pool tables, a small library, a gym with a stage and restrooms.

The former drab interior has been replaced by cheerful, light walls and hallways. There's also central air conditioning and heating,

The gymnasium, which may also be used as a multi-purpose room for meetings and special programs and activities, has no stage. Classes that will be held there will include gymnastics, exercise-wight reducing, badminton, golf and tennis. Teen dances will be held on Friday evenings. There will be no basketball.

THE CENTER also features a room with pool tables and ping- ball tables and an area for various small games which are available after school and on weekends.

Other facilities include a photo lab, a kitchen, an arts and crafts room, various meeting rooms, a reading room, restrooms, showers and vending machines.

Some of the classes will feature cooking, fine arts, karate, photography, dancing, and instrumental music. Most of the classes will begin in January. Pearo, Lewis and Justice will conduct some of them. Teachers will be hired to teach others courses while volunteers are also welcomed to teach other areas of interest.

She said a nominal fee will be charged for the classes, depending on the subject and the size of the class.

Other activities planned are a pre-school program and a Bible study group for senior citizens as well as tutoring for grade school and junior high school students.

Pearo said the pre-school drop- in program will be held from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays and from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. She said there will be programs for senior citizens and preschoolers in the morning and afternoon, activities for children 12 and under after school and activities for teens and adults in the evening.

“THE ACTIVITIES will center around all ages and interest groups. This is a city-wide program,” she said.

Everyone using the center will have to obtain an identification card first. All visitors to the facility will have to stop at the front desk as they enter. Their cards are kept at the desk so a record is kept all all times of all those in the center. Those cards will be available beginning Tuesday. To provide security and help prevent vandalism and theft, there are smoke and burgulary alarms systems.

Pearo said that eventually she hopes local artists will be able to display their works at the center.

She said more equipment and other items are still needed such as books, records, tapes games, gymnastic equipment as well as card tables,

Lewis, 32, who grew up only three blocks away from the center remembers how it was years ago: “It was a place for recreation and a lot of kids use to hang out there. We didn’t have too many programs.”

He said he would like to have some music workshops conducted at the center. Other classes he proposes include first aid, dio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as well as blood pressure and hypertension clinics.

Lewis hopes many of the classes and programs will become self-supporting.