Plans to renovate Lackman Rec to be discussed at meeting

The Lack­man Rec Cen­ter sits on 11.7 acres in Bustleton. It has a pool, a nice one, and ball­fields, bas­ket­ball courts, play­ground equip­ment and ten­nis courts, but City Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill feels it’s un­der­used.

Part of that might be at­trib­uted to where Lack­man is — 1101 Bart­lett St. Most people in Bustleton would prob­ably need GPS to find it, the coun­cil­man joked in a phone in­ter­view last week. The fa­cil­ity is south of Red Li­on Road, east of Ver­ree and west of Bustleton in the middle of a small nest of one-way streets above More­field Road.

O’Neill said the play­ground equip­ment is in good shape and the pool area has al­most a coun­try club feel, but it’s the grounds around the rec cen­ter build­ing that look a little un­in­vit­ing, maybe even shabby. There are plenty of good things about the build­ing, but, “There’s a lot of un­ne­ces­sary as­phalt around it,” he said. “And when you walk in­to the play­ground, it’s sort of Third World look­ing.”

There’s not enough park­ing either, he said.

The coun­cil­man had sched­uled a Jan. 21 meet­ing at the cen­ter to talk about plans to ren­ov­ate it and listen to neigh­bors’ ideas, but that ses­sion got snowed off the cal­en­dar.

It’s back on for 7 p.m. on Feb. 5, so Bustleton res­id­ents who want to hear about how $400,000 in city money will be spent to up­grade the rec cen­ter can get an ear­ful then and there, and maybe bring some sug­ges­tions of their own.

There’s prob­ably no way to make Lack­man easi­er to find, but O’Neill wants to make it easi­er to park there — leg­ally. Right now, there aren’t enough spots, so those driv­ing to see foot­ball or base­ball games of­ten park on the grass. Cops is­sue $100 tick­ets for that, the coun­cil­man said. To rem­edy that, he wants to double the park­ing spaces in some un­used parts of the rec cen­ter and have guard­rails put up to keep cars off the grass.

Fur­ther parts of the plan in­clude up­grad­ing the front of the build­ing, mov­ing and re­design­ing the cen­ter’s small play­ground, us­ing ex­ist­ing plumb­ing to cre­ate a wa­ter spray park for kids and build­ing a little race­way, com­plete with cross­ing signs, for small chil­dren to ride their tri­cycles and get­ting more grass.

The coun­cil­man said he star­ted work­ing on im­prov­ing the cen­ter about three years ago, but ad­ded none of the cur­rent plan is fi­nal, O’Neill said.

“We want com­ments and sug­ges­tions” from the pub­lic at the Feb. 5 meet­ing, which is the first pub­lic meet­ing on Lack­man, but prob­ably not the last, O’Neill said.

Named for Of­ficer Wil­li­am Lack­man, who was killed in the line of duty at Welsh and Ver­ree roads in 1968, the rec cen­ter’s play­ground opened in 1969, and its pool opened in 1970, said Deputy Re­cre­ation Com­mis­sion­er Leo Dig­nam. The only renov­a­tion done since then, he said, was an ad­di­tion to the ori­gin­al build­ing.

Part of the renov­a­tions O’Neill wants will in­clude in­stalling cam­er­as to mon­it­or the fa­cil­ity as well as “the Mos­quito,” a device that emits an an­noy­ing sound that only people young­er than those in their early 20s can hear. The Mos­quito will get turned on after 9 p.m. to dis­cour­age ju­ven­ile loiter­ing and van­dal­ism.

Ditto for the cam­er­as. They dis­cour­age van­dal­ism, and help cops catch van­dals be­cause their ac­tions are re­cor­ded. O’Neill said the cam­er­as pro­tect the city’s in­vest­ment in its rec cen­ters. He poin­ted to a re­cent in­cid­ent at the Boyle rec cen­ter in Somer­ton in which van­dals were taped in the act and caught by po­lice. ••

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