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Celebration was in order, during the groundbreaking ceremony that was held on May 17 at the William Beanes Community Center in Suitland, Md. The facility will be getting a major facelift. Circuit Court Clerk of Prince George’s County, Marilynn M. Bland, was in attendance. Sheriff, Melvin C. High, shook hands and greeted guests before the ceremony began. The Honorable Karen R. Toles mingled with community members before approaching the platform to offer remarks. The ceremony was significant for various individuals who have been waiting for the project to make significant progress.

Total project funding to modernize the William Beanes Community Center is reportedly $5,712,000. A long list of community members, citizen activists, students and others involved in the planning of the project are excited about the forthcoming 9,100 square foot edition.

My name is Elizabeth Hewlett. I chair the Prince George’s County Planning Board. I am Vice Chairman of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. On behalf of

the Planning Commission, I am thrilled, I am delighted, to welcome you to the long-awaited, eagerly anticipated, groundbreaking for the renovation and expansion of the new William Beanes Community Center!” Hewlett said, enthusiastically.

Cheers followed Hewlett’s remarks. The William Beanes Community Center is attached to William Beanes Elementary School. Dana V. Tutt is the principal. Future improvements that will be made to the William Beanes Community Center are expected to benefit students by offering more space for recreation, physical fitness, and after school activities. A multipurpose room will open to an outdoor patio area. Glass in the interior will allow for more natural lighting. A renovated gymnasium, new bleacher seating, a senior lounge center, a fitness room, and space for a game room will expand services offered for all ages. Finishing touches of the project include a new community garden, asphalt trail, renovated ball field, new basketball hoops, and parking lot lighting.

Frances Hughes, Director of the After Care program at Williams Beanes Community Center, has been a community member since 1975. She reminded others that the multigenerational community center will attract added benefits, such as mentorship.

“We are really proud, honored and glad that this is coming to fruition.”

Damari Childs is an 11-year-old student who participates in the Kids Care Program at William Beanes Community Center. The young speaker eloquently shared sentiments about the expansion and renovation of the community center, during the ceremony. Adult attendees stood and clapped, when his remarks ended.

Del. Aisha Braveboy represents District 25 and is Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland. Although she was unable to attend the event, Pat Fletcher served as her representative. Fletcher presented a citation from the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, to the Department of Parks and Recreation of Prince George’s County, in recognition of the groundbreaking ceremony for the William Beanes Community Center.

Prince George’s County Council member, Karen R. Toles, emphasized what the Suitland community deserves.

“By the end of the design phase, and the architectural design, this community center is going to be a $5.7 million dollar investment in this community. It’s hard to get that. I serve with eight other fantastic council members. I fought because the community said that you wanted to have it. I thank you—the community—for your advocacy, for knowing what you want to have in your community. In a year, you’re going to be ribbon cutting a $5.7 million dollar community center that we’re going to have over here at William Beanes.”

The District 7 Council member also offered remarks about moving Suitland forward progressively.

“Today is a wonderful day in District 7, in the Suitland community, because this community deserves to have a recreational center that fits the needs of this community. It’s going to have a senior wing, a place for all children to have recreational activities, and it’s going to have an expanded fitness center and senior lounge. The community deserves to have these amenities. As Ms. Hughes stated, when people look to purchase their homes, we want them to look in this community and say, ‘Hey, they have a recreation center. They have nice homes. It’s a walkable community.’ That’s what’s going to make people want to invest in their community.”

Kenny Bridgers of Suitland, Md. is Damari Childs’ uncle. He was extremely proud of the student speaker.

“It is significant for him, and to have a young person of his age, being involved in political work. It’s something that is monumental, not only for him, but the community as well. It is something that he will remember for the rest of his life. The experience will project him into doing more positive things, having enough confidence to have a positive impact on other young people. I’m very proud of him,” said Bridgers.

Childs’ mother, Kenise Bridgers, agreed. She stood next to sons Damari and Malakhi. Her 3-year-old nephew, Marley, represented younger children who may also benefit from future services that the improved community center may offer.

“Right now they’re in the cafeteria. Now they’ll have more space. I really liked this community center before this, so I know that it’s only going to get better. Even though they are in the cafeteria, they still make a way for them to do different things in before and after school care. I’m happy. I’m proud of him. He did a really good job. I think this is going to be an awesome outcome,” Kenise Bridgers remarked.

This summer, construction of the expansion and renovation of the William Beanes Community Center is expected to begin.