FORT WORTH Cracked walls, sinking floors and even rat traps are set up outside the Como Community Center to keep rodents out. The building is more than 40 years old, but over the years has seen only minor upgrades.
"I don't think the building is going to fall on anybody, but I don't think it's a safe as it needs to be," said Brittney Smith, who brings her niece and godson just about every day.
The Como Center, at 4900 Horne Street, has several programs before and after school. A $276 million bond issue will go before Fort Worth voters in 2014, but despite the needs of this and other parks and community centers, only $14.5 million is budgeted... and the Como center may not see any of that money.
"When you start looking at roadway systems versus community centers versus parks and libraries and fire stations, it can be a difficult process," conceded Richard Zavala, the city's Parks and Community Services director.
Senior citizens also use Como Center for various activities, but mostly it has become a hub for kids.
Carol Brown, director of the Como Community Center, would like to get a new building, but said she will work within the city's budget constraints. She also praised the efforts of city leaders who have intervened on the center's behalf.
"As a person who is working with these kids and this community every day, I know they deserve better," Brown said.
With 20 other community centers and more than 200 parks in the city all vying for the same attention, Zavala said his department working along with City Council members will have to try and determine which areas are a priority.
Then voters will have the final say.