KCMO Community Center Issues Leave Neighbors Upset

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Across the metro area, students are getting ready to be out of school for the winter holiday break. But that isn't good news in one Kansas City neighborhood, where residents say reduced hours at their community center means that many kids will have nothing to do, increasing the risks of crime.

The Marlborough Community Center on the city's south side is the smallest community center in the city. But people who live nearby say it's one of the only places to go in the neighborhood where people can find computers, a library, games and a gym.

"We have a large amount of kids. Not a lot of people have personal transportation. We have issues with poverty. A lot of our folks are living in Section 8 housing, so we don't have the way to get kids to activities. So having a community center is really the hub of activity for these kids," said homeowner Betty Ost.

Ost says that when she comes to the community center, more often than not it's closed. The city cut back the center's hours of operation following a staff shortage caused by turnover.

Neighbors like Brenda Thomas say that it couldn't be happening at a worse time.

"I know other community centers are suffering the same thing. However, Marlborough, we're being cut and cut and cut in terms of some of the services we have here. We're in a situation where it would be a little bit better to have it open more. The kids don't have an alternative other than this," said Thomas.

The Marlborough Community Center recently received $300,000 to expand the center's parking and improve lighting. But neighborhood leaders say that cutting back the center's hours of operation sends a mixed message as to what the city's priorities are.

Kansas City Parks and Recreation Community Services manager Mark Bowland told FOX 4 that more staff should be in place by January as kids go back to school.

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