Legislation Would re-form Department of Recreation
Trenton N.J. – Mayor Reed Gusciora announced today that Trenton City Council is poised to vote on the Administration’s proposal to re-form the Department of Recreation, Natural Resources & Culture. It is the mayor’s intent that as a full department, Recreation could focus on recreational opportunities for young Trentonians as one alternative to gang affiliation and violence.
“In the past year and a half, our Recreation Division under Maria Richardson has sought to increase recreational services and programing for City youth,” said Gusciora. “The previous City budget for recreation was about $300,000. However, by increased grant funding, that budget has expanded to over $2.5 million.”
Gusciora pointed to progressive programing and activities that better serve City residents, such as martial arts, sports and athletic programs, chess, arts and music, cooking classes, environmental walks, and special cultural events. The City has also proposed to revamp its 60 parks, open spaces and cultural heritage sites.
“In this regard, we need to recognize, promote, and preserve our parks, recreational spaces, historical and cultural attractions, in order to honor our City’s unique heritage.” The Mayor continued, “but at the same time, the focus has to be on creating more afterschool programing, recreational activities like skating and bike riding, and athletic camps. We recognize that many parents feel there are not enough activities for their kids to engage in. Sequentially, they turn to gang affiliation.”
Mayor Gusciora has maintained that Trenton youth need increased recreational opportunities, in order to be proactive, and preventative against crime.
“The Capital City cannot arrest its way out of our problems.” Trenton Police Director Sheilah Coley argued. “If we want to keep our kids off the streets, and out of harm’s way, we need to put a bigger focus on Recreation.”
As of right now, ‘Recreation, Natural Resources & Culture’ is a division of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Department of Inspections (should the legislation pass) will subsequently be converted to a division of the Department of Housing and Economic Development, as in most municipalities.
Director Richardson stressed that “our kids deserve the same opportunities that children are getting in the suburbs. As a Department, we are putting recreational programing front and center. We need to be doing more for every child in Trenton.”
The vote creating a Department of Recreation, Natural Resources and Culture is expected at City Council’s next voting session on Thursday, December 19th.
Photo Caption: Children line up to enjoy the City’s ‘Bastille Day’ celebration in July of 2019.
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