AP NEWS

Community lobbies Beaumont council for rec facility on the south side

January 30, 2019

Children on Beaumont’s south side may soon have a new place to play on nights and weekends.

Dozens of community members showed up at Beaumont City Council’s Tuesday meeting to support opening the former Melton YMCA building at 3455 Sarah St. during certain hours as a place for children to play.

“We want to have that accessible to give the kids something to do,” Beaumont NAACP president the Rev. Michael Cooper said.

The city manager, mayor and mayor pro tem told the residents they have a plan and asked them to be patient.

The building once was used as a YMCA facility, but it closed when the board walked away from its lease and ceased operations in March 2010. Shortly after, it was reopened as the L.L. Melton Family Life Center and run by a coalition of churches and organizations.

The coalition later decided it couldn’t continue operating the center, City Manager Kyle Hayes said.

In 2013, the city entered into a 20-year lease with Donna Farrell, who runs Recreation Education Complex in the building. The program provides “Day-Hab” services and prevocational training for students and graduates with special needs.

Cooper said residents had been told the center would be open on nights and weekends so children in the community would have a space to play. Tuesday’s gathering and calls to council members earlier this week were residents’ way of letting the City Council know that’s not happening.

“If the kids want to play, they have to play in the streets,” Cooper said after the meeting. “We want to create a center … and give them a chance at a happy and normal life.”

Hayes said the council plans to discuss the issue during executive session May 2.

“I don’t want you to go away and be frustrated and feel like the council isn’t doing anything,” he said. “(The council) wants the Melton Center to be open at certain hours.”

He wouldn’t give more information about the proposed solution but said Mayor Becky Ames and Mayor Pro Tem Robin Mouton believe it will be an agreement that satisfies all involved parties.

Mouton during the meeting recalled time she spent at the center growing up. She said she was at the Melton YMCA nearly every Tuesday, on Friday for dances and to play and hang out the rest of the weekend.

“Not only is the L.L. Melton Y a place I grew up … it’s a part of who I am and my life,” she said. “I love it.”

She lamented that today there is “absolutely nothing” for children to do in the community.

Cooper said in a perfect world, the center would be open from 6 to 9 p.m. weeknights and all weekend. Programming at the center could include soccer, football, baseball, reading, tutoring, blood drives and other community events.

“We wonder why our children are falling behind … because they don’t have facilities for them,” Cooper said.

kaitlin.bain@beaumontenterprise.com

twitter.com/KaitlinBain

AP RADIO
Update hourly