Submitted by Jeff Buster on Tue, 07/31/2007 - 13:43.

I  have been following a thread on BrewedFreshDaily concerning Michael Polensek’s radical letter – and whether recreation centers might make a difference to our kids  Mr. Polensek’s ward has been promising to build a youth rec center for about 17 years but can’t seem to get it done.


Comments have been made on the BFD blog that rec centers aren’t cool.  Here’s my recent experience:


I attended a KRUMP dance competition at a rec center in Cleveland Heights last Saturday.  About 200 people filled the basketball/dance floor.  Family groups comprised the majority of the audience and there were two competing KRUMP dance teams from two nearby communities. 


In the blurry video frame (I need to shoot at 30 frames per second, not 10 frames per sec) I’ve posted above you can see a back flip in process.  The moves are really wild.


KRUMP is a combination of modern dance, marshal arts moves, gymnastics, pantomime, break dancing, and Michael Jackson.  It is extremely energized and team based.  There is a very cool vibe between the team members, and warm camaraderie as well between the two teams.  I flashed back to my high school swim meets where wave after wave of swimmers flew off the blocks and  cheering and screaming filled the natatorium.  


I take this opportunity to cordially invite  Michael Polensek to the Heights Youth Club – a Cleveland affiliate of Boys and Girls Clubs of America   Seeing kids and feeling the atmosphere in this club will convince you that rec centers are, as Marybeth Matthews observes, healthy, cool, invigorating, fun and very beneficial for our youth. 


Please contact the  Heights Youth Club director (who I know well - mention my name) at mail [at] heightsyouthclub [dot] org


Jeff Buster

krump at hyc 699.jpg44.3 KB

REC Centers

  REC centers are critical to the community.  I wouldn't blame Mike Polensek for the lack of a recenter in his ward.  He has been subject to petty politics and the city's financial status precluded anything during the Campbell administration, although recently Jackson has reopened the rec centers on Saturdays. I have been talking to myself about rec centers all along.  I wish I would see the council members, who affect policy at my rec center, Brian Cummins and Kevin Kelley, actually use the center with their families.  It is important to understand their function and to constantly monitor their condition.  Estabrook is a well-maintained center, but the manager must carefully balance two conflicting populations--kids and seniors--and must stay on top of some employees who veer towards entropy.

That said--a rec center is not going to change the dynamics in Polensek's ward.  Just as it does not really change the dynamics in my ward.  Civility is not going to happen overnight.  It helps to have the multiple generations meet at community events at Rec Centers, but I really think that the challenge is to address civility street-by-street, get neighbors to know each other and commit to respect and help each other by being considerate of one another, regardless of age, culture, race and income level.

Community Centers/ part of a region

Recreational centers should be in proximity to the schools an in adjacent building.  Campuses with educational buildings, recreational building and a theater and library, this way they stay open all year and REDUCE REDUNDANT COSTS!


The village concept would works but separate entities are not aligned, If I try out for the basketball team and I am consider an “A” player then I could be offered a summer job, coaching at the recreation center.  Two hours every day drilling 5-6 graders and then setting up games with other leagues.  It all could culminate with playoffs and a big game at the rec-center and the kids could sell tickets.  This could be done for baseball, soccer and also for things like Community Theater.  The high school should have acting classes and have a performing art group.  A center could have a summer fest with schedules of event the playoff and summer theater.  The children could be interns at local theaters, and even schedule major performance at their theater and sell tickets, seniors and juniors? 


In proximity to the school, a library, a police station, a post office, a fire station.  A consolidation of these into campus makes for a community center. Young adults education programs should be linked into the community, mechanics in trade program interning at the cities maintenance facility or horticulture student working with grounds crew.  


The city needs to redistrict, zip codes are not partisan and everyone does have a post office and it works real nice for sorting data.


I would like to contact K mart, see if they would build a strip mall that looks like old storefronts, with living space above them, ideally a tenant could work in one of the stores.  Each store would store would be a department, men clothing, electronics, home and garden.  All of the products would be out of K-mart inventory and tracked as if in one store, except for 10% they would be locally made.  Each department would be responsible to purchase products locally, find the person to make some clothes or assemble a computer system.  The ten percent could be tagged with local stickers.

Each store would be tracked as profit center and mangers evaluated; distribution would come out a central warehouse with small environmentally friendly trucks. 


If McDonalds want to be in the commercial district then it would be told no semi deliveries, and the restaurant needs to have attached rentals and affordable to your employees.  Living and work in proximity, it very similar to the mom and pops they used to own the store and live above it.


There are people driving across town to work at wall marts, then the car breaks down and they get fired.  It is not that complex the business district can have the housing right there.  It all matter of legislation, but what’s missing is big a living wage.  If a person works at McDonalds then hey need to make enough to pay for rent.   That’s $300.00 and can we offer an apartment for $300.00 a month.  That is at $7.50 an hour and it is based on a 40hr workweek. 


It is math and it is missing from legislation if a district had 30% at $7.50 and hour then it has to offer 30% of it housing at a price that meets the market. 


If we have industrial areas they should have trains that connect them to the residential areas were the average wage in the factory equals a market price of housing for a stop on the train within walking distance.  


Our train stations are parking lots?  


If each zip code had it own community center and facilities then a county system is not far from reach, we do need one government that collect all the taxes so we can get this it will generate sales tax or property tax or income tax agenda out of the decision process. 


We failed we needed rent control and we got “B” paper, that’s sad because some of know that is taking in the wrong direction.  The government could and should subsidize the building of rent control housing to ensure the markets meet. 


If I build an apartment building it needs to make a profit, if my costs to construct are discounted to meet rent control it is sustainable. It is also locked at that price and that guarantees a market. 


Cleveland is playing games with values and not setting boundaries through anything but what subsidies of individuals, there is fraud in that, at every level.  The worse part is it keeps people from moving up.  If I am in rent control and working at McDonalds I could got to tri-c at night and if I graduate and get better job I can keep my rent controlled place, if I am getting subsidized I am or could be forced to move?  It is too complex. 


I say a district could be fully market and other could have rent control, but stop discounting the taxes and the and lower loan requirements it all volatile and economically destabilizing. 


The federal government knows this they talks about living wages all the time, but they need to see it implemented at a municipal level. 


I hate to be cruel but if HUD people that tell you rent control will not work it is because they know it will put them out of work. 


If I build 25 Units and I build then at $60.00 per sq ft and each unit is modest two bedrooms with 1000 sq ft then my total cost is 1,500,000. 


If they are rent controlled at $300.00 each I get $7,500.00 per month in rental receipts.


At 5% fro 30yrs my principal and interest payment is $8,000.00, plus my taxes at 1.9% is $2,375.00 per month.  I have other expenses, water and sewer and common area lighting I would have each unit pay it own gas and heat.   I need about $1,250 for the upkeep.


So I am at $11,625.00 per month and I only have $7,500.00 per month.  I need $768,000.00 up front, and then I have a sustainable residence of 25 1000 sq ft units for 30 years.  The rent goes up with the cost of living but it never requires funding again. 


If we ask HUD to open their books it get followed with termination resignations and indictments.


Who get the $300.00 a month apt?  I think rent control could be real cool, if you work within a designated area, basically walking distance.  Or on a rail route, I personally do not believe in cross-town busses.


I would like nothing more than to relocate all industry in a rail serviced zone that connect to affordable housing at the other end.   


I propose that a RTA station be built on Turn ave and linked to community center that spanned from Lorain ave south to Hyde ave. It could have all the elements I addressed at W117th is a rail station and at Berea Road is open industrial space. 


The process is clearing and consolidating and building, all the elements are there and other nodes exist ecovillage should be high end property and the Gordon rec center needs to go the central campus, the eco friendly garden were a nice concept, but I propose a high concentration of housing and retail.  South of 90 rent control north of 90 gentrified. 


The lakefront needs to be developed but everything from 90 norths is lakefront.  Transfer low cost out transfer industrial out not by force but through better and more appropriate choices. 


I know I can lift an old house off its foundation for 30K and that includes a new foundation then set it back down with new furnace, plumbing and electric, 8K and cement board siding and new window 15K a new roof 5K.  That’s 60K you can sell it “A” paper only or get a one-time grant to make it rent control.   That’s a rough estimate but the message is to the stockyards.  They could go down every street and offer 2k for lot and then 5k for an abandoned, then 10k then 20k then 30k eventually it all is filled in and at a higher value.  No section eight only rent control.  Its been refurbished and energy efficient, rent it. It pays it self off and has a real market value.    


It takes 40k as an investment, then HUD offers the balance up to 50k, they are paying 65k a unit to renovate and build projects, it is nuts then they have to keep paying to keep them up.  Some can buy them but other would have to rent and at 300.00 a month for rent the owner makes money on the 40k investment.  I would half tax abate some areas for the life of the mortgage.  But if the school system combined with the recreation and public libraries, it could be possible to reduce property taxes all to one half and if the average value got out of the crapper it would or could generate more than it does today.  






What do they say about "idle hands"?

I jumped into the BFD discussion with my enthusiastic support for rec centers, and will also add my two cents here, simply because I feel very strongly about the need for worthwhile activities for kids, especially the early adolescent set. The teenage years are such a difficult phase. Kids long for a measure of autonomy, but need guidance. They can be hormonal and obstinate, lazy and contrary. In short, they can seem very uncivilized, and many community members are quite disturbed by their music, their language, and their attitudes. When kids have nothing to do and no place to do it, somehow trouble finds them. Too old for child care, too young for many jobs, and unsupervised until a parent comes home from work, police receive the bulk of juvenile nuisance calls between 3 and 6PM.

No, rec centers aren't the silver bullet. There is never just one thing that will save the neighborhood or change the dynamics of a community. But darn it, Cleveland's' neighborhoods need each and every amenity possible to improve the quality of life for families in the city. The suburbs boast beautiful, well run rec centers, focusing on exercise, health, and wellness for parents and children, teens and seniors. Shouldn't the families of Collinwood have those kinds of programs too?


We do boast

  I don't mean to be prickly here.  But, we do boast great FREE rec centers.  I think I am speaking as the only Cleveland resident here.  Visit our REC centers and outdoor pools.  You would be surprised.  The reality here:  mental-outsiders (people living like prisoners in their city homes), exurb/suburbanites and our representatives don't think of us as real people.  We are abstractions to them--the poor and pathetic who haven't made the get-away to the "safety" of the exurbs.  And, god forbid, these people or their children actually mingle with US.

Marybeth, perhaps, you can broach the topic of CMSD schools and their redesign to incorporate recreation center amenities for Cleveland residents and their kids.  I see a golden opportunity to redesign Lincoln West High School as a park-like campus that will include Meyer Pool in the redesign.  Oengus touches upon this concept, too.

I struggle to understand the district's capital improvement plan.  I stood in the auditorium of over 300 angry residents who reacted to the Byrd-Bennet's call to demolish William Cullen Bryant.  Now it is listed as a school of promise.  A relief to me, which I hope means that this beautiful school with a beautiful adjoining Lowe Park campus and pool will remain unscathed.

Dear Peter

Norm--please do show us how to self-catalog our entries.  I don't understand how to add multiple category headings....Your Dear Peter category caught my eye.  Is Peter B. Lewis the only living major benefactor who will leave a legacy?  If so, he may want to help out our Cleveland schools.  I just received my invite to the CMSD's Army of Believers Scholarship Fund (okay guys give me a little more lead time).  I will contribute, although I can not attend due to work:

Here is the information:

Please join us as we honor our Army of Believers at a special recognition luncheon to benefit the Cleveland Metropolitan School District Scholarship fund

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Renaissance Cleveland Hotel > 24 Public Square >Cleveland OH 44113
Four-star General $5,000, Three-star General $3,500, Two-star General $1,500 and One-star General $50.00

Make checks payable to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District>1380 East Sixth Street>Rm 317>Cleveland OH 44114

For additional information contact 216-574-8504

QUESTION? On my part--how does this differ/relate to the Cleveland Scholarship Program?

hold down "control" to pick multi catagories

To cause your post to be entered into multiple relevant catagories, just hold down the "control" key when you click on your choices. 

Clevelands' Rec Centers


Although I am a Cleveland Heights resident, (and I must brag too, the Heights Pavilion is FABULOUS!) I am one of the minority of outsiders who has at least a bit of familiarity with Cleveland's' rec centers, having visited a few over the years. Back in the eighties when I lived in Slavic Village for a couple of years, my oldest son swam at Stella Walsh, and played Little League baseball. Max Hayes has a wonderful relationship with Cudell, where our students learn to  swim, the swim team practices, and our multiple handicapped classes participate in a special arts program.

As for the districts' capital improvement plan, I agree it makes sense to design new schools as dual use community centers. Why it isn't happening? Well, being a district employee, I would prefer to discuss that offline.


Linda...hmmm.  I like that, as in pretty :) but alas it is Laura.   I would never criticize any MAESTRO, believe you me!  It's not a personal issue--it's a humanity issue.  Now, how do we get the school district to think BIG with small dollars?  The work-around?...Get the students behind the idea???