Baldwin envisions a community center

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The folks clustering around the tables began drawing immediately and with energy. At one table sat eight members of the group Students Against Destructive Decisions. The girls, students at BHS, chatted excitedly as they inked features into the blank building template. “I’d go every weekend,” one of them said.

“There’s nowhere to go now,” another echoed. “I sit in my room.”

The girls filled their imaginary building with numerous attractive features: basketball courts, a place to eat, a bingo hall, a stage, an arcade, a skating rink and even a “Zumba palace.” The youngsters’ sketch included some items — like the skating rink — that appeared on other teams’ drawings. One feature it did not contain, which appeared on three of the five other sketches, was a dog park — an attraction many in the room said they thought was essential.

“We’ve been begging for this for years,” said one participant. “Right now, dog owners just walk up and down the street.”

Facilities that appeared on fewer drawings, but which attracted general praise, included solar panels, wind turbines and a flea market. The concept of a broadcast center also had widespread appeal.

“We could have Baldwin TV,” a voice called out. “I want my BTV.”

For the moment, of course, a Baldwin community center is only a dream. But Rotundo and Hill said they believe they have taken the first step toward making it a reality. Rotundo, who collected the posters and lists drawn up by the participants, is in the process of creating “stakeholder groups” — including young people, parents, media, schools, religious organizations and more. She said she intends to use the input collected at the “envision” meeting to draw up a proposal that she will take to a variety of funding bodies, both public and private.

A broad timeline of five to 10 years for the completion of the project was set at the meeting, but Rotundo said that the gathering established a solid foundation. “This was the first step in making our dream come true,” she said.

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