LANDOVER – Residents of the Palmer Park community were full of smiles and hugs as they greeted one another at the reopening of the Palmer Park Community Center on March 5. Citizens from all over Prince George’s County attended the center’s reopening after it was under renovation for the last two years. Many officials of […]
LANDOVER – Residents of the Palmer Park community were full of smiles and hugs as they greeted one another at the reopening of the Palmer Park Community Center on March 5.
Citizens from all over Prince George’s County attended the center’s reopening after it was under renovation for the last two years.
Many officials of Prince George’s County were in attendance, including Prince George’s County Planning Board Chair Elizabeth M. Hewlett, Prince George’s County Councilwoman Andrea Harrison, Senator Victor Ramirez (D-47) and Delegates Diana Fennell and Jimmy Tarlau (both D-47A).
The Palmer Park Community Center originally opened in 1969. As the community grew and developed, the center was in need of renovations and more amenities to better accommodate residents. A plan and a design were created to update the facility in the summer of 2013.
The renovated center is a multi-level building and has increased in size to 32,000 square feet, with numerous features and new amenities.
Wanda Ramos, the chief of central area operations, talked about the renovations at the ceremony.
“The community actually requested the renovation,” Ramos said. “The community actually came and talked to the county council, Andrea Harrison, and they put it on their budget to renovate it.”
The center received close to $8 million in funding.
Ramos also talked about the importance of having a community center in the area.
“This is a place where children in the community oftentimes learn how to dance, to roller skate, and to do arts and crafts,” Ramos said.
Terrell White, 35, agreed that the center was a benefit to the community.
“I think we need it because it’ll keep all of these kids out of the streets and stuff because it’s nothing for them to do around here,” White said. “They just need something to keep themselves entertained and keep themselves out of trouble. They can come work out, play around, get some exercise or something instead of being out here smoking and drinking and doing all of these unnecessary things that aren’t going to benefit you when you get older anyway.”
The center’s original gymnasium was reconfigured into a classroom, a large multi-purpose space, a teen’s games area, and a fitness room. The rest of the structure was razed and replaced with a new collegiate style gymnasium with an elevated indoor running track. The gym is 8,030 square feet, almost 2,000 square feet larger than the former space.
The center also includes a lobby with a staff office space, a front desk, a kitchen, public restrooms and a modern computer lab.
The second story above the lobby includes a multi-purpose area with a stage platform for their award-winning dance program, along with storage space.
Outside, one tennis court was repaved and the other court was redesigned into a new basketball court. The parking lot was restored as well and an art display was created for the Palmer Park Community Center, with the help of community input.
The facility is a six-time gold medal award winning facility. No other facility in the county has received such recognition.
After the ceremony, guests were invited to take a tour of the facility and were able to participate in fun activities such as martial arts, dance, and arts and crafts.
Guests at the ceremony talked about how important the community center is to the area and also compared it to the original center.
Mary Abbott, a resident of the community for over 50 years, talked about why she attended the event.
“My daughters informed me,” Abbott said. “They keep me hip on what’s going on in the community and they called and told me to come on down and I came on down. This is a very outstanding situation for Palmer Park. That’s what makes it so nice: help our community, help our children, and help the environment and keep all our children clean and honest and encouraged instead of in the streets with drugs and all that”
White talked about how much the center has changed from when he used to visit at 15 years old.
“I used to come to the rec all the time when I was younger,” White said. “We used to play for the 15-and-under basketball team when they had the rec and I came down here to see the remodel and this is like, wow.
“Well, it’s more spacious,” White said. “It was really, really small and I remember the gym being on the other side of the building before and just like everything changed up. All this is new. The little room that I remember, it’s not even recognizable. It’s like a whole new building all together. Everything has changed. I don’t recognize anything in here.”
He also reminisced on how the center was the place where friends could meet up and hoped it would be the same for this generation of kids.
“Anywhere you wanted to find where any of your friends were, if they weren’t at home, they were at the rec,” White said. “This was like the place for everybody to go. We could all meet our friends, we played some basketball, get in the gym, you know, just have fun, and that’s what Palmer Park was missing, because a lot of these kids don’t have nothing to do.”