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Brooklyn Park youth hub seeks $4m to complete major expansion

Computer generated image of a well-lit communal space with tables and comfy chairs. A young Black woman sits next to a staircase, talking to someone who has their back turned to the camera.
Rendering of the proposed expansion of the Zanewood Recreation Center

Zanewood Recreation Center is seeking $4 million from the Brooklyn Park City Council to create a new teen center.

The project would expand the city’s popular youth hub by dedicating its current space to children in K-5, and attaching a building to it specifically for teens. City of Brooklyn Park Parks and Facilities Manager, Marcus Hill, says the current 1970s building no longer serves the capacity of programming needs.

“Currently, Zanewood Recreation Center is a facility for K - 5 programming and a teen space. As you can imagine, 18 year olds with kindergarteners isn't usually a good mix when we're talking about programming language and things of that nature,” said Hill. “We have a number of drop-in programs, arts and engagement programs, prevention and intervention programs… And we just have a building that is not for 2024 programming.”

A computer drawing of a plot of land with a building, basketball court, art garden and green space.
Site plans for new Zanewood Community Center

As it currently stands, the Teen Center is scheduled for an opening date of summer 2025. The project has just completed the stage 2 design phase with Black woman-led architectural firm, Design by Melo. If fully funded, the center will include an indoor and outdoor gym, a workforce development space, a gaming lounge, outdoor amenities and a space for large-scale events.

Hill says the $10 million project is $4 million short of what is needed. The remaining funds would go to, among other things, completing the center’s gym. He says the gym is a major part of the vision, because the city lacks an accessible public gym in the surrounding area. Hill says this is a great opportunity to draw youth into productive activities. 

“We know the gym is what's gonna bring the teens to our facility. And once we get them to our facility, then we can give them the resources and the programs that they need or that they're interested in to be successful. But if we don't have a gym, it's kind of like having a 50% dream,” said Hill.

A long building with a mix of tan and grey exterior and many windows.
Computer rendering of the exterior of the proposed Zanewood Recreation Center

Hill says he’s meeting with the city council on July 8 to see if the council will allocate more of the park bond funds for this project. If approved, the project could move to construction bidding as early as later that month. 

Because Zanewood Recreation Center is surrounded by the city’s highest concentration of youth and low-income families, Hill says he hopes funders will see the positive impact that will come from this vision.

“We want to build a facility where we can help with good after school programming for parents… Give them good educational resources, whether that's tutoring or after school help,” says Hill. “We have a full time intervention and prevention staff that helps youth and families with finding them housing resources, giving them access to good food, giving them access to medical resources if they need insurance, or if they need a physician… We're built to help the folks of our city that really, really need it. And then the number one goal, I think, is just providing a safe space for youth in our city to go to on a daily basis for good programming.”

In the meantime, Zanewood Recreation Center is accepting donations.

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