The idea of creating a community center at a Red Bank-owned building on the West Side is one that “needs plenty more discussion,” children’s activist David Prown told a crowded Borough Council meeting last night.
Then he proceeded to introduce more than a dozen speakers including social services providers, volunteers and average Joe residents who made the case for creating such a center, whether or not it is based in the soon-to-be vacated building at the corner of Drs. Parker Boulevard and Bridge Avenue.
Some invoked the specter of the recent triple homicide in Newark as a warning of what can happen when kids don’t have the kinds of services that a community center can provide.
A woman who volunteers with the Pop Warner football program lamented an absence of activities to engage boys after the season ends. Several speakers said they favored moving the the Parks & Rec Department to the site from its current offices in a trailer on Chestnut Street to boost program visibility and participation, while others envisioned it as a a clearinghouse of sorts for referrals for everything from healthcare to jobseeking.
What was unmistakable in it all was a sense of a void.
“There’s never that one central location where we can all grow,” Linda Clark, of River Street, told the council. “Even if this is not the one, I think we have a lot of people behind you guys to find that one location.”