FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Following the reportedly sudden closure of a city youth center that caused controversy at last week’s city council meeting, the Jennings Center is now set to reopen Monday.
A spokesperson with Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation confirmed to WANE 15 the department plans to reopen the center Monday after the parks director cited staffing issues led to the shutdown.
The facility closed July 28 after celebrating its 75th anniversary just two days beforehand. It had also closed in the springtime, but reopened during the summer thanks to the timing of college students coming home to staff the center. It had to close again at the end of July as many of them left again for school.
Months later, at the council meeting Oct. 10, the way the center was shut down was a controversial topic due to a lack of communication.
The conversation got heated when the parks director addressed next year’s budget for the department. The discussion was redirected to focus on the Jennings Center and how it closed down without the knowledge of several officials connected to the facility.
Anita Dortch, a member of the Jennings Center’s advisory board and daughter of the man the center is named after, told WANE 15 the board did not know about the closure until long afterward. She said she then contacted council members Glynn Hines, Michelle Chambers and Sharon Tucker, which subsequently led to council members asking parks director Steve McDaniel about the closure at the council meeting last week.
Children registered at the Jennings Center and available staff were transferred to another city youth center, McDaniel said, adding he ultimately wanted to see the Jennings Center reopen but staffing was at the root of the issue.
McDaniel said last week the parks department was short-staffed by more than 30 people between the city’s three recreation centers, and the department has “worked harder than ever” to hire people, including a pay incentive of $15 an hour.
A release from the parks department said the center will reopen Monday for after-school programming and Kids’ Café services in the facility at 1330 McCulloch St. Registration for families, along with staff applications, can be found on the department’s website.