The Urban County Council took a step toward reopening a community center that's been closed for years. The Charles Young Center on East Third Street was a big topic of discussion during Thursday night's council meeting.
Before the council meeting began, supporters of the Charles Young Community Center lined the sidewalk to draw attention to their cause. Community activists have tried to revive the facility since it closed several years ago, but many took extra notice of those efforts after October's shooting spree across the city. "The shootings put everybody's eye on Charles Young," activist Quinton Roberts said, "but now we're trying to save it, and hopefully the shootings... it's a bad thing, but it's opened people's eyes to why we need these in our community."
Activists packed council chambers to make their case that places like the Charles Young Center give young people healthy alternatives to crime and violence. "We want these children to have a place to go where we can say, Ms. Muhammed taught me about pregnancy and stuff, so I don't want to be a teen mother, so the government will not be responsible for taking care of me and my kids for the next 18 years," activist Corey Dunn told council members, "The government will not be responsible for incarcerating him, him, and all the rest, a third of the black men in this room for a year," he continued, pointing at those sitting in the audience.
A task force made several recommendations to the council on how to save the center, but the biggest challenge is raising $173,000 for improvements. Support for the plans took the form of impassioned pleas, a short film, and even slam poetry. "We could be traveling through a time machine called the Charles Young Center, where everyone who entered remembered not just why they came that day, they remembered how that day came to be," poet Nam Oshun said.
The council gave an initial approval for the plans. They'll have a final vote when they meet again next Tuesday.