Fayette County

Lexington task force recommends strategy for reopening Charles Young Community Center

The Charles Young Community Center in Lexington has been closed for more than three years, but a city-appointed task force and residents of the East End neighborhood hope that won't be the case much longer.

At the Urban County Council's work session Tuesday, the task force issued a report recommending that the city retain ownership of the building but partner with community organizations to offer activities and programs there.

To that end, the group asked the city to issue a Request For Qualifications from anyone interested in providing programs or services at the center, at 530 East Third Street.

The 13-person task force, which included three council members, said preferred uses for the center include youth activities, services for senior citizens and job training or workforce development. It could also serve as a recreational facility or community center.

Just how a reopening of the center would be accomplished was the subject of some debate.

Several residents said they are concerned that the programs and services to be provided at the center might not represent the neighborhood's desires.

Also, many community members view the Request For Qualifications process as "internal and government-driven," said First District Councilman Chris Ford, who chaired the task force. Because of that, the task force recommended that an advisory board be set up to govern programs and services to be offered.

The task force discouraged using the building as a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, clothing bank or any entity that would allow people to sleep on the premises.

Also, the task force recommended that the city appropriate $173,000 from Community Block Grant funding for short-term facility improvements, such as bringing the building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The center is named in honor of Maysville native Col. Charles Young, the third black man to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Ford said he plans to ask the council to act on the recommendations at its next two meetings, on Thursday and the following Tuesday.