Project Overview. Long vacant, the Poppleton Recreation Center at Greater Model Park in Poppleton will soon be transformed into a vibrant community asset, providing recreational opportunities for community youth, seniors, and all ages in between. This transformation is part of a wider revitalization of the Greater Model Park area, including the opening of a new United Way Family Center at the neighboring Excel Academy, which will include childcare facilities for students and community members,, and the renovation of the Greater Model Park splash pad funded by HUD through the TransformPoe planning process. In November 2021, Southwest Partnership has a signed lease agreement with the City for the operations of the Recreation Center, and intends to sublease to the Southwest Sports and Fitness Alliance (SSFA) to manage the space. The Alliance is a neighborhood based 501(c) 3 non-profit organization with a mission to ensure that southwest Baltimore becomes an opportunity-rich environment where people, especially kids, can participate in sports and recreation with complete pathways to a more promising future and encounter supportive people at every turn.
The total refurbishment of the Recreation Center is estimated at $2M. Southwest Partnership has raised over $750,000 in grants to-date from the Church of the Nativity, the Lowe’s Foundation, and the Maryland Depart of Housing & Community Development to support the renovation. As of November 2021, SWP has a lease from the City of Baltimore and is working to get subsequent funding commitments from private and public sources. If we meet our funding toals by April 2022, SWP expects work will begin in early summer 2022. The Lowe’s Foundation has also funded a mural, designed in partnership with the Poppleton Now! neighborhood association celebrating the history of the neighborhoods, which will be installed on the exterior of the Rec Center.
Project History. Reopening the Rec Center was identified as a priority by the Poppleton community as part of a community planning process. The Poppleton Now! the neighborhood association approached the SWP and the Southwest Sports and Fitness Alliance to develop a strategy to re-open the Rec, and after conversations with the City and the community about the building’s future and possible avenues for re-opening the capital campaign for renovation funds began in late 2019.
On Saturday, February 22, 2020, SWP organized a day of action to “Resurrect the Rec” where over 85 volunteers from the Poppleton neighborhood, the surrounding neighborhoods, and parishioners from Church of the Nativity removed 4 city dumpsters of trash from the Rec Center.
Over the past year, SWP has also worked with SSFA to engage residents and stakeholders around the type of programming they would like to see in the renovated space through a series of virtual and COVID-safe in-person meetings, and a survey. SSFA is working towards a future where every young person in the SWP area has regular access to caring adults, a wide variety of engaging recreational opportunities, and the possibility of developmental opportunities in areas they are particularly passionate about. From these engagements, we learned that residents really wanted to see programs that benefit children, youth, adults and seniors alike with supervised accommodations for young children while parents may be engaged in activities. While the exact programming is being defined, there is a common understanding of the purpose of the programming and the space.
- Target Age Group: 5-18 years old
- Core Operational Time:
- Monday-Friday 2-6 pm; weekends for sports programming, special events and specific interest club activities
- Evening hours for specific interest club activities
- Space: Poppleton Recreation Center and adjacent fields
- Activities: Low-barrier to entry indoor and outdoor recreational programming
All programming will utilize the available indoor and surrounding green spaces for opportunities to connect, build skills and promote well-being.
Where We Are Today. SWP has a Lease with the City of Baltimore. We have drafted plans for the renovation work, and have focused on deepening our partnership with public and private stakeholders on a capital campaign to close the funding gap. While the capital campaign is ongoing to raise funds for the renovation of the Rec Center, the Southwest Sports and Fitness Alliance (SSFA) is coordinating regular community meetings of recreation providers in the area and working with the community to identify gaps in existing programming and coordinate future program initiatives, and preparing to sublease the space by the end of 2022. Please consider donating to help us re-open and start youth programming sooner!