'It could have such a bright future' campaigners fight closure of community centre (From Borehamwood Times)
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'It could have such a bright future' campaigners fight closure of Maxwell Park community centre, Borehamwood
Campaigners have vowed to fight to keep a social centre which is “the life and soul of the community”.
People are rallying together to stop Hertfordshire County Council from selling Maxwell Park, in Maxwell Drive, and closing it later this year.
The centre holds music classes for disabled people, drug support groups and activities for the over 50s.
Borehamwood resident Paul Welsh feels its closure would leave a “black hole” in the area.
The 59-year-old added: “The loss of this place will break down community spirit because it is the life and soul of the town.
“The kids are bored on the street and causing destruction but if we have nowhere for them to go, the problem will just keep getting worse.
“Destroying this place seems counter productive. Where are the clubs going to go?”
Maxwell Park first opened its doors in August 1963 as a youth social club, and children and teenagers would regularly gather there after school and during the holidays.
The centre is due to be sold to developers when a new community centre in Shenley Road opens its doors later this year.
But the Elstree, Borehamwood & District Community Association is looking into the possibility of buying the centre.
Natasha Starr, who runs a music class for babies, is worried the new centre will not be adequate.
She added: “It would be a tragedy to see this place go and it would cause me terrible disruption. It is a wonderful community centre.
“We have ample parking, the centre is always clean and it is in a really convenient location. I don’t know if the new place will be the same.”
Musician Sheldon Conrich teaches music to children and adults from the centre – including some with disabilities.
The 28-year-old said: “Everyone knows everyone here and it would really upset me to see this place go.
“For me it is not just a place to teach, but it is also somewhere I feel a part of. You don’t feel like a number when you walk in here.
“It is a well-loved place and a hub for so many things. It could have such a bright future.”
June Kempton, the centre secretary, said: “The centre has a lovely atmosphere and I have got to know so many people over the years. It is a really friendly place.
“A lot of people will have to give up their activities if we have to close.”
Robert Gordon, leader of Hertfordshire County Council, said: “It has always been the our intention that Maxwell Park Community Centre would close when the new multi-million pound facility at Shenley Road is complete.
“HCC and Hertsmere Borough Council officers have been working together on the relocation of all activities at Maxwell Park.
“We are aware that the current occupiers have expressed an interest in buying the site. At the appropriate time HCC officers would be happy to meet with any interested parties.
“We are working up alternative proposals for the Maxwell Park Community Centre site and is carrying out feasibility work to establish the options for the site.”