Cooper Community Center revitalizing neighborhood with 35 years of service

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Press release from Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation:

Cooper Community Center Revitalizing Neighborhood with 35 Years of Service

(July 29, 2010) – Mayor Tom Henry, Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation Director Al Moll, Deputy Director Perry Ehresman and Neighborhood Program Manager Bennie Lewis celebrated the 35th anniversary of Cooper Community Center today with neighborhood children during Cooper Center’s Fun and Field Day. City Council Member Glynn Hines and Parks & Recreation staff also joined the festivities, which included an obstacle course, Hoop & Stick Relays, 100 meter dash, long jump, high jump and other activities designed to promote physical activity.

Director Moll announced that the Department is exploring the possibility of constructing a parking lot at Ivan Lebamoff Reservoir Park to accommodate the large number of youth attending the summer playground program at Cooper Center, as well as the numerous events throughout the year.

“We appreciate the leadership of Perry Ehresman, Bennie Lewis, Camille Curry and their outstanding staff,” said Mayor Henry. “Their early efforts this year to align youth center and playground programming has reenergized Cooper Center. It is helping to foster a new generation of leaders who are going to be an integral part of the Fort Wayne community.”

In January, the Parks & Recreation Department announced the enhancement of programming at the youth facilities. The four separate programs—Jennings, Cooper, Weisser and the Playground Program—were combined into one Neighborhood Program to improve the delivery of services to a broader community.

“We’re pleased with the results of our realignment,” said Lewis. “Now we have a family of youth centers working together to serve the entire community.”

Cooper Center, located in Ivan Lebamoff Reservoir Park between Lafayette and Clinton Streets, was built when Mayor Lebamoff was in office and was opened in 1975. It was originally named the Cooper Teen Center and in the late eighties and early nineties was the hub for youth programming in the surrounding area. In the late nineties, Weisser Park Youth Center was built and programming was transferred to that site, leaving a void in the Reservoir Park area until 2006 when the City of Fort Wayne reopened Cooper Center.

“This balance of old programming with innovative technology has proven to be a winner, with youthful growth, and repeat usage of the facility and amenities,” said Director Moll.

Director Moll broached the subject of the community’s need for more youth centers, suggesting the McMillen Ice Arena be considered for a future site. He encouraged public feedback on the prospect.

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