Back in 2013 we had first told you about the Tolentine Community Center looking for feedback from neighbors on what they’d like to see at the center in the future to engage more of the community.
The center’s 25-year lease is now ending as of July 12 and the community is split on what the future holds for this 35,000 sq. ft. space at 11th and Mifflin.
Tolentine is mostly known as a voting center or bingo spot, along with offering some other community programming. But some neighbors don’t think that’s enough and would like to see more in the center’s future.
Back in April, about 50 people gathered in the Neumann-Goretti High School cafeteria to discuss the future of the community center.
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The residents derided a lack of access to the building. Some complained of gratuitous fees. Others wondered how the nonprofit’s board was chosen, and how much money the city supplied.
About 60 kids use Tolentine’s after-school program, which costs $65 a week, Mattei said. The 10-week summer camp runs $1,350, and about 80 children are enrolled.
One man, who refused to give his name or address, spoke in favor of Tolentine’s programming. The rest called for change.
Stephanie DeJesse, 49, wistfully recalled the groundbreaking for Tolentine. A few years ago, she said, she took her son and his friends to play basketball inside. She was turned away, she said. The gym was arranged for the next day’s bingo game.
Some neighbors have commented on the gates always being locked and not allowing for much of the community to access it, while others believe that the center has offered ample programming as-is.
Although the community’s opinions are mostly split by the old and the new, the center’s board is mostly made up of older neighbors. In 2013 two younger neighbors were added to the board, but due to tension from the center’s former executive director, both decided to leave.
With all of the tension between generations and neighbors, what do you see in the Tolentine Community Center’s future?