Why is Charles County without a multi-sports/entertainment complex or something comparable for our youth and adults? In my opinion, I feel we have some in Charles County who want to keep a certain demographic secluded from the general public and major businesses, fear change, outsiders, or true economic development for the County yet have no problem paying the 2nd highest property tax in the MD while some of our elected officials have spent our tax dollars on personal-agenda projects.
The newly and overpriced Waldorf Senior and Recreational Center is not a multi-sports complex but a small variation that has limited parking, low visibility, a traffic nightmare during rush hour if any large-scale event should occur, and will provide no long-term economic growth to Charles County.
First, let me state that I don’t disagree that seniors and youth need some sort of new or modernized center or venue to engage in fitness and health, educational and personal enrichment opportunities, or arts and crafts. However, I seriously doubt seniors, youth as well as a vast majority of our taxpayers wanted our previous Charles County Board of Commissioners to purchase an estimated $3.5 million building.
The current Rec Center was vacant for nearly two years while there was another County building that was readily available yet the previous Commissioners provided no thought-provoking, logical, or researched-based documentation explaining their refusal to use an existing County building. In my honest opinion, we had a more fiscally responsible way to address the needs of our seniors and youth. It’s called Charles County’s own Capital Clubhouse.
The Capital Clubhouse is approximately 90,000 square feet compared to the Rec Center’s 30,000 square feet. The two-story Capital Clubhouse has a 17,000 square foot ice rink (which may be used more by St. Mary’s and Calvert County residents), fitness and cooking area, office and meeting rooms, and a 37,000 square foot gym area.
We could have purchased 10 professional portable basketball systems at approximately $6,000 to $10,000 per system, resurfaced the existing floor, and provided minor upgrades. These renovations would have allowed seniors and youth a space to engage in fitness and health, educational and personal enrichment opportunities, or arts and crafts for a significant fraction of the cost. Simply put, some previous Commissioners did not want to make use of an existing County property but rather pay approximately 38% more over the previous $2.5 million price tag for the commercial property.
The previous Commissioners purchased this building without a clear plan of action readily available to the public. Unfortunately, this overpriced purchase is a done deal but it could have better served as an emergency temporary homeless shelter and/or a one-stop-shop for the homeless, veterans, or less fortunate. This current building would have been capable of housing permanent offices for non-profit, county/state organizations and provided services to our homeless, less fortunate, elderly, and veterans by offering:
- Job training/location service
- Hygiene facilities
- Social and mental health services
- Substance abuse referral services
- Legal aid services OR
- Temporary/transitional housing services
In the end, the previous administration provided a band-aid solution to deal with homelessness sufficient space for senior and youth activities.
As a Charles County citizen and taxpayer it is the expectation that our current elected officials be responsible stewards of our tax dollars for the sole purpose of the people vs. self. Simply put…give the people what they want!!!
Derrick Nathadius Terry