ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — The push for a long-awaited youth recreational center in north county continued Saturday.
A group of county leaders, young people, and their parents stood around a podium in Vinita Park at Mayor James W. McGee Park to express their support for a center that has been in the works since 2019.
“The children in this North County and this first county council district is not going to be forgotten," Young Voices with Action President Farrakhan Shegog said proudly on the microphone.
St. Louis County Council Chairwoman Rita Days, also in attendance, picked up the torch from the late councilwoman Hazel Erby. Erby died in July 2021 during her plan to use excess tax dollars brought in by a $175 million convention center complex project signed in January.
Days told 5 On Your Side she had continued to work on a concrete plan to put $40 million in special bonds toward a recreation center to promote positivity among the youth.
"It's important that we understand what is at stake for our children in North County. Our children have very few resources,” Days said.
The longtime councilwoman added that she struggled with pushback and gaining support from parties in comparison to other big projects throughout the St. Louis area, those not geared towards African American children particularly.
Other officials at Saturday’s press conference, along with members of Erby’s family, agreed.
Days added that a “kitchen table” of people have worked on what the facility could look like with recommendations from the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission.
“Nothing can be done without a request for proposal. This is a governmental body and it has to be done appropriately and that's what I'm trying to go through and make sure it happens,” she said.
Jae Allen from the area has been raising a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old and thought the space could do her kids and their peers some good.
"To have activities in a safe place you can go to after school, or on the weekends on your free time is amazing," Allen said.
Allen’s son plays with TruVision, a traveling basketball organization with over ten teams. A group, among many others, many agreed, the rec center would benefit.
"Of course you need space to do stuff like that so us having more than one outlet to get these guys from kindergarten through seniors in high school a place to get away and do basketball things will help out a lot," said Darrien Spears, TruVision’s president.
Councilwoman Days mentioned she is continuing to work on more plans to present to her fellow council and that she would work on a final passage for the bonding.
The group will hold one more vote for the project at the next St. Louis County Council meeting at 6:30 p.m. April 5.