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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)
The Cleveland Browns won't be bringing their training camp to Columbus, but the city and Franklin County aren't giving up on a plan for joint programming at a recreation center.
It likely won't be as robust as the $15 million to $17 million plan that would have replaced the Tuttle Park recreation center with one three times larger, and it could materialize elsewhere.
"Tuttle still is an opportunity. Linden is an opportunity to continue the conversation," said Tony Collins, director of the city's Department of Recreation and Parks. "We wouldn't need as much. It's not defined yet."
The plan is linked to the city's "focus center" concept for community and recreation centers in Columbus neighborhoods where the city is trying to combat high rates of infant mortality. Collins said the city started exploring that concept, which is used in other cities, about two years ago for 11 recreation centers.
The city wants to operate jointly with public and private agencies at those centers, Collins said. For example, the county could run a workforce training office in the same center where Columbus has traditional recreational activities and other services.
Columbus also is open to working with nonprofit groups, Collins said.
Franklin County is interested in giving more opportunities to train youths for jobs related to the recreation and parks department, such as turf management or facility maintenance, said Kenneth Wilson, Franklin County administrator.
Working with the Browns was the "spark" that made Tuttle Park, on the North Side, an ideal location for a pilot concept, in part because of its proximity to Ohio State University, Collins said. Tuttle would have been the 12th focus center and acted as a pilot for the programs.
The Browns and Franklin County each would have contributed $5 million, and the city would have covered $5 million to $7 million of the cost. The new recreation center at Tuttle Park would have been three times larger than the existing facility, with space for the county to operate a workforce development office for 16- to 24-year-olds.
The Browns would have occupied part of the proposed 45,000-square-foot recreation center for a month during the summer and used three outdoor fields for practices.
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