An agreement reached with the Parks and Recreation Department will allow Decatur Youth Services to continue with its programs, despite losing access to a school building and facing the expected loss of a recreation center.
The agreement will allow DYS to use the Aquadome and Fort Decatur Recreation Center, DYS Director Bruce Jones said Thursday.
DYS, an urban program that aids underprivileged youths, had to scramble this fall after losing the former Brookhaven Middle School because of contamination concerns from the old landfill on which it is built.
Jones said Parks and Recreation Director Jason Lake, who could not be reached for comment, came to the rescue with the agreement.
Youth Services Lead Programs Director Lemzel Johnson said they are so overwhelmed with students who need tutoring, especially from Austin Junior High School, that more space is needed.
DYS’ tutoring does not have enough space in the Aquadome meeting rooms, so Lake agreed to let DYS use space at Fort Decatur Recreation Center, Johnson said.
“We plan to keep the elementary students at the Aquadome and move the junior high and high school students to Fort Decatur,” Johnson said.
But Johnson said splitting the classes means hiring more people who can tutor and transport the students to the new location. He said the school system has been helpful in allowing its buses to take the students to the Aquadome with the permission of their parents.
Carrie Matthew Recreation Center is still in use but its future is unknown. The City Council is still waiting on a report on repairs to the gym floor, which is sinking because of foundation issues.
As many as 700 youths per month go to Carrie Matthews for open gym. DYS is holding its adult programs, like the GED prep class, at the recreation center for now.
Johnson said they’re still not sure what to do with the adult programs after the expected closure of Carrie Matthews. He said options under consideration are for the city to rent portable classrooms or to use the old Boys and Girls Club at Sunset Drive Northwest.
League Commissioner Rico Pickett Sr. said registration for Youth Services’ basketball leagues for ages 6-15 have begun and will be held through Nov. 5. Registration forms are available at the DYS offices at the Aquadome and Carrie Matthews.
Its games, which will start in December, will be held at Leon Sheffield Elementary School because of the expected closure of Carrie Matthews. Practices will be in the elementary schools’ recreation gyms, Johnson said.
Coaches are needed for all age groups. Those interested in coaching a team can call Pickett at 256-309-7603.