ORLANDO, Fla. - As Orlando embarks on a quest to build another new sports venue some in the community are complaining that neighborhood venues are underutilized and not being used to promote strong values in lower income families.
"A key component of that is, obviously, access for youth to do positive things instead of negative things," said Tim McKinney with United Global Outreach.
McKinney believes facilities like the Emery Hamilton Sports Complex are underutilized by Orlando youth because they remain locked until an organization pays a fee to use them.
"Most folks in this community can't afford to pay the fees that the city has for parks like this one and many others throughout the city," said McKinney.
McKinney also points to the Hankins Park ball field where youth program organizer Terrell Anderson is trying keep kids out of the kind of trouble he got into at an early age.
"I ended up going out of juvenile detention homes, in and out of jail and then off to prison," said Anderson.
City officials said ball fields like Hankins Park aren't like regular parks. They said they need more maintenance which is why they charge fees.
But Anderson said the kids he works with can't afford the fees of up to $40 per hour.
We don't have the money for that. We go out and raise our money from our program.
A city representative said the fees offset costs to taxpayers, and that they must ensure that organizations that use the fields are properly insured.
McKinney said he doesn't buy that reasoning.
"Mayor Dyer has gotten very good at ribbon
-cuttings for new venues. I think we need a few ribbon-cuttings for old venues and bring some bolt cutters down here and get these locks taken off," he said.