By G.D. Baker, Special to the AFRO
Recently, Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned, but she did keep one promise. She reopened the legendary Shake & Bake Family Fun Center. But, hold your applause; it seems more like a political ploy than anything else. Especially now that one year after opening the skating rink, the bowling facility has opened. It’s apparent that again having the Department of Recreation & Parks in charge of this facility is a sham at best.
The Department of Recreation & Parks has overseen the rehab of the center starting in December of 2017, and when you look at what was done in the skating rink it really shows their lack of experience. From a low rent sound system, to allowing a company that knew nothing about the standard maintenance of a skating floor. Time after time complaints have been made about the floor’s condition prior to the reopening of the Bake, yet again this same company was contacted to do the floor again. The rink needed new lights. Again, a lack of experience was evident in the installation of gym lights. Do you know how much heat is created when these are on?
What programs have been put in place for the kids? On any given day, the skating rink snack bar might not have pizza, hotdogs or even cotton candy. There are no games, lockers half work, inadequate seating, no one there that knows how to fix skates or how to purchase skates.
The bowling center, of the Shake and Bake Family Fun Center; it’s a beautiful renovation, but what about it says “family fun” or “kid friendly?” Is it the bar height tables and chairs? The area with a pool table and dance floor? Some lanes do have the bumpers that can be raised, but a five-year-old still has to try and lift an eight-pound ball. Where are the duck pins? The gaming area is equipped with state-of-the-art gaming chairs to play X-Box or PlayStation games. But, how many kids in the 21227 can say, “Hey mom can I have $5.00 for a half hour or $10.00 for one hour to play?” Again, more bar height tables and chairs. Have you heard the club sound system, or seen the show-stealing light display? Are there any plans for kid’s leagues, summer camps, or is this strictly an adult recreation center? Looks more like a glorified man cave. The bowling center was designed by experts in the bowling industry, so why wasn’t the skating rink? It was the DMV skaters that held the Mayor of Baltimore accountable for reopening Shake & Bake and this was, and has been, a total injustice to them, as well as the residents of Sandtown-Winchester.
Security is, and has been, always a major concern, and here we have another questionable call by this department. This security company was hired for the grand opening last year, they did not offer a service that was really needed for this facility. They would only cover from the front steps to the back door, refused to allow the back door of the facility to be used by patrons. Shake & Bake has a parking lot in the back of building and they required patrons to walk through the alley around to the front of the building to enter the building. They were not monitoring the backlot for safety, so you were parking at your own risk. They were at the center for maybe four months then no security. But here we are one year later and with the bowling center now open and they were again awarded the contract. Maybe another area of this past mayor’s administration to be investigated.
Now the DMV Skate community is not without fault as to how this center is being ran. For all those that were up in arms about the rink closing, where are you now? Oh that’s right, you are there every Thursday adult night and the special late skates that feature your favorite DJ’s like Stormin’ Norman and K.W. Griff. All true skaters watched the HBO documentary about the plight of urban skating rinks. So where are you on let’s say, Monday Gospel Night, Tuesday Night (Ladies Night), created just for the 18 and over – after the age was being enforced on 30 and over Thursday Adult Night. Where are your kids skating? Why are you not now questioning the condition of your skating rink, the management of your skating rink? What services should be offered?
This is the Third time the City of Baltimore has put Shake & Bake under the direction of Recreation & Parks and every time, the leadership shows either they don’t have foundational knowledge of industry best practices or they just don’t care. It was announced that the center would be renamed for Mr. Glenn Doughty, but this is not the center that Mr. Doughty presented to the citizens of Baltimore City in 1982.
G.D. Baker has been a DMV skater since 1982.
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