Brunswick to study whether it needs a community center

·3 min read

Jul. 14—The Brunswick City Council on Tuesday unanimously agreed to form a committee to consider a community center for the city.

Residents came to the last two meetings to voice their support for a new center and encourage the council to take action.

"The committee is a very good way to get started, so that we can really get some facts and information," Councilwoman Angel White said. "Where? How much? What are we looking at? And go from there."

The committee, Brunswick Mayor Nathan Brown said, will dive into the needs of the residents and maybe later look into cost and location.

Longtime community center advocate and Brunswick resident Bob Ward met with Brown on Wednesday afternoon to discuss big-picture ideas of what the committee would look like.

In an interview, Bob Ward said he's been talking to Brunswick mayors for a new community center since 1974. He said he was happy there is movement on the idea.

"It's something that needs to be done. I mean, it's way overdue for Brunswick," Ward said.

During Tuesday night's meeting, Ward choked up as he talked about a friend and fellow community center supporter, Kim Doyle, who died Monday night. Ward urged council members to do something for people who have been working toward the idea of a community center for years.

Currently, the city only has the City Park Building on East Potomac Street for many of the community's needs, Brown said. However, the space is small and not good for some of the activities residents would like, he said.

The new Brunswick Elementary School scheduled to open in the fall of 2023 will also have a public component through Frederick County's Parks and Recreation Program, in which people can rent out the school's gymnasium and meeting rooms, Brown said.

For Councilman Brian Sandusky, a big question for a committee to answer is whether a new building is needed or whether the city can renovate an older building.

"That's a huge, big difference," Sandusky said.

Prior to Tuesday's vote, many residents supported the idea of a new community center. Some came to the last council meeting in June, reiterating their support, while others were new voices.

Tim Wilson, a Brunswick resident of 44 years, went up to the lectern during Tuesday'smeeting and told the mayor and council of a vision he had.

It was a new community center, a few years in the future, with a bronze plaque hanging inside. The names of the current council were engraved on the plaque. Wilson moved away from the lectern, and faced the council. He read out loud each of their names.

"Think about it, guys and gals. All of your names etched in bronze, for posterity, for future generations to read," he said.

Kari McDaniel, a Frederick County Public Schools teacher working in Frederick, said it's challenging to drive back and forth between Brunswick and Frederick for work and to get her kids to their respective activities. A local place to host activities would ease that, she said.

"It's a lot to juggle," she said. "... The development of a recreation center here would ... open up more recreational options for them and provide them with more enrichment closer to home."

Lee Zumbach, Brunswick Area Recreation Council's treasurer, said the city needs a new center with plenty of space for recreational activities and sports such as volleyball and pickleball for people of all ages.

He said it should have rooms for community groups to meet, which are greatly needed.

"Brunswick is now this small city, big town, so it's long overdue that these facilities get built for our citizens," he said.