KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Missouri Parks Board pledged changes at how the city's community centers are run after numerous complaints about the facilities, lack of programs and short hours of operation.
Reduced hours of operations at several community centers are being blamed by some people for fueling violent crime, and many people say that the programs are vital to keep kids off the streets.
On Friday, crews began giving the fitness room at the Brush Creek Community Center a fresh coat of paint to go along with new exercise gear. But residents in the surrounding neighborhood say that the new paint and gear won't mean much if the center isn't open in the evenings, when kids need safe activities at safe places.
"I have to shoot a plea out to the mayor, If you were able to open the doors when the Plaza was having problems for that one time, you were able to keep the centers open past 12:00 a.m. then, you can keep them open now," said Pat Clark, Third District Committeeman.
Community centers across the city extended their hours during the summer to offer late-night activites following gatherings of unruly teens on the Country Club Plaza. Neighbors say that they would like the centers to remain open until 9 p.m. But park managers say that temporary staff shortages have prompted some centers like the Brush Creek Community Center to shut down at 6 p.m. on some days.
"As we look to restore staffing we will restore hours that currently existed prior to the vacancies," said Mark Bowland of the KCMO Parks Community Services Manager.
Bowland says that complaints about poor maintenance are being addressed immediately. He says that if voters extend the city's motor vehicle fee next year, that could help provide better staffing and maintenance for all the community centers.