PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia’s only rec center designed for people with disabilities is set to be demolished. On Saturday, some community members are pushing back against the city’s plans for the Carousel House’s future.
For dozens of people, this simple message was worth standing outside under Saturday’s scorching sun, something they’ll do again and again until this comes true.
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“Save the Carousel House,” they said.
Seated at the corner of Avenue of the Republic and Belmont Avenue, the Carousel House is considered a safe haven for people with disabilities.
Philadelphia announced recently it would be demolished and reenvisioned.
“Right now, Parks and Recreation has hardly any accessible rec centers. Three months after they told us it was going to be torn down,” one man said, “we are still not informed of any centers that we can use.”
According to protesters, the new plan for its future would include integrating the facility.
“Which means it would be open for more than just the disabled folks,” Gil Hendricks, a former employee, said, “and we do not think that will work.”
Hendricks is a Vietnam veteran with MS who has worked at the rec center for nearly 20 years.
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“Hey, Gregory grew up here. I mean, we’ve been all part of the Carousel family,” Hendricks said.
Hendricks says for people living with disabilities inclusion is not so cut and dry.
“For the disabled community, I don’t think they’ll have that same freedom or feeling of security that they had when they were here with their own people,” Hendricks said.
“If it ain’t broke, why fix it? And to take this away from the City of Philadelphia, not from a district, not from a neighborhood, is criminal as far as I’m concerned,” Lorraine Poole-Naranjo, a former rec district manager, said.
Carousel House is the only rec center for people with disabilities in the city.
Participants feel integrated programs like wheelchair basketball will be no more.
Eyewitness News reached out to the Parks and Rec department as well as Councilmember Curtis Jones Jr. for a comment on the Carousel House. We have so far not heard back.
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CBS3’s Jasmine Payoute reports.