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"We have 500 kids playing six days a week at 11 parks," Hager says of 3&2, which leases its baseball diamonds from the city each year. "I don't think we ought to be disturbed, frankly."
The report from the Dog Park Task Force Advisory Committee was published on July 17. The committee included Sunnyside Park among those it deemed suitable for off-leash areas. After the board hears the committee's report this week, it will vote on whether to accept the report's recommendations.
The Potter: Michael Oliver
The Westport Roanoke Community Center, at 3601 Roanoke Road, is undergoing a major face-lift because of pottery. For more than 10 years, students of master potter Michael Oliver have called Parks and Recreation and testified at parks board meetings, asking that their tiny classroom be expanded.
"It was on many an agenda," Oliver says. "There just wasn't any money. Then, suddenly, there was PIAC money that worked exactly for this purpose, and the city decided that if we're going to do it, let's do it up right. Two years ago, the city started matching the PIAC funds." The funds, in the ballpark of $1.25 million, according to Lampone, were allocated in April 2008.
So the community center, which hadn't seen a full-scale renovation in 50 years, was closed in July 2008 as construction crews modernized the pottery room, the reception area and the bathrooms; put new doors on the gym (which had been upgraded a couple of years before); installed a new furnace and a new air conditioner; and added a security system.
Oliver, whose knowledge of Roanoke Park arcana is encyclopedic, says the land for the park was donated by its owners with the condition that the area be left a little wild. The park retains the rugged look that its benefactors wanted, but it can't help showing its age. For example, there are the tennis courts. "They're in horrendous condition," Oliver says. "They used to be the best courts in town, but they've been neglected."
Still, the renovated community center should draw people back to the park. It's a little behind schedule — the July 4 opening date has come and gone. Lampone hopes that the renovations will be complete in time for a mid-August opening.
Meanwhile, Parks and Recreation has given Oliver a new assignment: working the front desk and providing some programming at the Tony Aguirre Center on the city's West Side. The West Side has a large Spanish-speaking population, but the Tony Aguirre Center often lacks bilingual employees. Oliver knows Spanish from years he spent in Paraguay, where he met his wife.
He would like to benefit from the new pottery room at Westport Roanoke Community Center, but Oliver says he doesn't know if he'll be back. "I could do so much more there, with my credentials and what I've been blessed with and given," he says.
While the gleaming, glassed-in entrance of the remodeled Westport Roanoke Community Center hints at the treasures inside, it might feel a little empty without Oliver.
Spring Valley Park
The Fishermen: Marvin and Ron Russell
The Parks Board acquired the property for Spring Valley Park, at Bruce R. Watkins Drive and East 27th Street, in the early 1900s, after nearby residents begged the city to take it back from legions of squatters using it as a campsite.
A century later, the land still has an unsavory reputation. It's located in the east region of the city, where citizen-satisfaction survey results from 2008 show that 18 percent of respondents reported feeling unsafe in the parks, even during the day.