Metro Parks is asking Mayor John Cooper for more than $6 million and more than 100 new staff members.
The request includes funding for pool chemicals, enhanced disability services and professional development opportunities for employees.
The department says it never recovered from budget cuts during the Great Recession and is unable to meet service demands. It wants to extend weekend hours and expand youth programming, too.
Bryon Slay, a regular at the Southeast Community Center in Antioch, says he supports the idea of investing in parks and recreation centers.
“Before graduation, in school, we used to come up here all the time,” says Slay. “Eat, have fun, play basketball, go in the library, play video games.”
Slay says the city doesn’t have a lot of options for teens, and while the community centers aren’t perfect, they serve as a place for young people to come together.
Mouhanad Kheder, who was visiting the Southeast Community Center with a friend, says recreation centers serve as convenient workout options.
“Especially this time of year with the weather being so unpredictable, it’s just good exercise coming to the community center. You see people on a regular basis, the same familiar faces,” says Mouhanad Kheder.
Kheder says the city’s made a lot of improvements since he moved here in the 1990s. The centers are now a place to build community in a changing city, and he believes putting more money into parks would be a good next step.
The mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Metro Parks’ funding request. The department’s budget proposal can be found on page 419 of the PDF document here.