PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - In Portsmouth, community leaders came together Saturday to combat crime and reach out to at-risk young people.
A rally was held for a community recreation center for kids and families in the south side of the city. The Portsmouth City Council recently voted against building a community center in the area.
Organizers say a community center in the area would help give positive options to young people and ultimately combat the area's crime problem. Truxton residents say they have wanted a recreational center since the 1970s.
De'andre Barnes is one of many residents collecting signatures in support of the center. He grew up in Portsmouth, and believes a recreational center would help kids stay out of trouble.
"As a kid I've seen something thing I should not have seen," said Barnes. "I've seen people get killed, and I've seen kids selling drugs."
Barnes believes this is what happens in a community when kids have no safe place to go. He envisions the center could also be a place to play sports, and for the community to find help.
"Inside the rec center we would have programs to deal with conflict meditation, teen pregnancy, and things like that. At the end of the day when you invest in the kids you get something out of it, everybody gets something out of it," said Barnes.
Barnes said it would cost about $5 million to build the recreational center, but he said he believes the cost of doing nothing is much higher.
"They don't consider all the money saved from when kids are not going to jail, dropping out of school, and having babies, all those things cost money," said Barnes.
Congressman Bobby Scott, Mayor Kenny Wright, and State Senator Louise Lucas participated in Saturday's event to show their support.
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