Cleveland City Council Want Parks and Recreation Dept to do More

Director of Public Works Michael Cox, in beige suit, addressing council.
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Cleveland City Council is holding talks this week on a budget that remains mostly flat.   But expenses are expected to jump as the city adopts changes in the police department to follow a consent decree with the Department of Justice.  One thing a council committee says it wants to keep funding is the division of parks and recreation. Ideastream’s Mark Urycki reports .


Parks and recreation took on a decidedly serious tone at Cleveland City Hall.   Council members, recalling the midnight basketball leagues of the 1990’s argue that parks and recreational centers can be important in reducing crime.  Councilman Zach Reed noted that such a camera captured a Cleveland police officer shooting a 12 year old outside the Cudell Rec center.

“Some cases you got em inside, some cases you got em outside,  Tamir Rice should have opened our eyes that we needed to do something and we need to do something different. ”

The proposed budget calls for cutting four vacant recreation instructor positions this year.   But Councilman Kenneth Johnson, who has a rec center named in his honor, was hearing none of that.

“The budget says we cut 4 recreation people.   What I’m telling the director and the commissioner – we ain’t cutting nothing in the recreation division.  That ain’t going to happen. We’re not cutting anything in the recreation division.  We’re not going to balance the budget on the back of these kids

8th ward councilman Mike Polensek says daycare companies are bringing busloads of kids from outside the city.

“You go in the dead of summer and you see buses in the parking lot.  Something is terribly wrong here.  And the kids are being brought in from Lake County!   Now figure that one out.”

The Director of Public Works for the city, Michael Cox, told Ideastream he will speak to the Mayor’s office about what can be done.  But he says there are poor children in the suburbs too. 

“First of all, I’m not an advocate of children paying,.  And what they have to remember is that in the suburbs not only do the non-residents pay but the residents pay. We don’t pay in the city of Cleveland.   No one pays in the city of Cleveland and our facilities are open to everyone. “   

The division has several major projects this year – opening a renovated Clark Field in Tremont and a new Duggan Park on the east side.  The department is also installing a new $3 million dollar parking lot at the West Side Market.

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