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Charles Black Community Center unveiled Thursday, community relfects on legacy and future

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- The Charles Black Center reopened on Thursday after receiving a nearly $5 million renovation.

A grand re-opening event was held inside the center and included speakers from the community like South Bend Common Council member At-Large Karen White, Lynn Coleman, and Gladys Muhammad. The speakers spoke about the center’s 50-year past and how excited they are to see it receive much needed renovating.

“There was a void in the area a little bit,” said Cynthia Taylor, director of the Charles Black Center.

The center was closed for a year while renovations took place. Center staff had to put on programs and events at various locations within the city, according to Taylor.

But the void was filled with excitement on Thursday night. People toured the center’s new wing and got to find out more about the resources available.

“People can come in and be able to experience a lot more programming and a lot more taking ownership of the building,” said Taylor.

The building is 50 percent larger. And its amenities include the following:

-        A gym, twice the size as the former

-        Music studio

-        Bike shop

-        Workout facility, twice the size as the former

-        New kitchen

-        New concession stand

-        Flex room

-        The Cube

-        Computer room

“There’s several things that’s happening on the west side and now we feel a part of that with the building being renovated,” said Taylor.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg also spoke at the grand re-opening on November 1. He said it took a lot of work and investment, but the result is beautiful.

“This is a neighborhood that really needed to frankly see the city prove that we believe every neighborhood deserves great facilities and great programs,” said Buttigieg.

The South Bend Venues, Parks, and Arts department, specifically the Parks and Trails team, spent $4.5 million on the center’s renovations. Taylor said she’s grateful to the city for the money which will impact the hundreds of children, adults, and seniors, she’s worked with for the past 15 years.

“For me, it makes me feel like I’m just I’m glad that I’m here to see it,” Taylor said.

Coleman, who was at the center when it opened in 1968, said Charles Black Sr.’s legacy will forever live on at the center no matter what changes are made. He called the center an extension of Black’s life.

“To help young boys, young girls, develop themselves,” he said. “Help keep the peace, kept people out of trouble and safe.”

Coleman described Black as a mentor, coach, and friend, during a time not different from 2018.

“One of the reasons why this building is here because of uprising that happened in this town in the mid-60s,” he said.

ABC 57 News asked Coleman, Taylor, and South Bend Common Council member Sharon McBride if it’s fair that there’s pressure on the center to lower crime caused by youth. Crime is decreasing in the city, but since the start of the year, more than 70 people have been shot.

The city has seen eight homicides and five of the victims were teenagers. McBride said there is pressure, but the center is not the end all, be all to the crime in the city.

“If you give kids an outlet and something to do and lessen their idle time,” she said. “That’s always a positive impact.”

McBride, Coleman, and Taylor said they encourage parents to sign their children up for programs coming to the center. Many of the programs have partnerships within the business and non-profit community.

“The Lake side has always been a strong community,” McBride said. “For this facility to come to bring community back to this side of town is amazing.”

And apart of the re-opening, the staff showcased personalized bricks people in the community purchased. The funds will be used to create scholarships for Lake students, according to Taylor.

“Who knows how it will affect a kid 50 years from now that might be having a conversation about what this building, what this space,” Coleman said. “Done to, for, and with their lives.”

 For a list of programs and future events held at the Charles Black Center, click here.

 

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