LINK Center to be revitalized for new programs

Aug. 20, 2014 @ 09:33 AM

The underused LINK Center, a city recreation facility in Lenoir's West End community, is being brought back to life thanks to the work of Upward Movement Ministries, a nonprofit organization looking to start youth programs at the center.

Doug Perkins, with Upward Movement Ministries, first approached the Lenoir City Council at its Aug. 5 meeting with what the group wants to establish at the LINK center and how much maintenance the building needs, including new flooring, exterior repairs, landscaping, and removal of lead-based paint.

Council members voted Tuesday night to approve the maintenance work, which will be paid for with money from the existing parks and recreation budget.

Upward Movement hopes to establish after-school programs for youth, with sports, educational, music and dance programs as well as age-specific programs focusing on everything from self-esteem and gang prevention to college preparation.

Among several options that city staff proposed for the LINK Center, council members favored drawing a new lease with American Legion Post 321, which has also showed interest in being involved at the center. The American Legion would use the building for meetings and also would be in charge of renting or leasing space to other community groups for programs, including Upward Movement, while the city handles maintenance. The American Legion will be asked to work with Upward Movement to see what type of lease arrangement the two groups would prefer.

Councilman Ron Stilwell called it “an excellent step forward,” with opportunities to involve the entire Lenoir community.

American Legion Post 321 Commander Norman Smith said, "My concern is not only the communty it's in, but surrounding communities," mentioning work the Legion does helping veterans and the homeless, which could also be brought to the LINK Center.