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New day dawns for 13th Ave. center

BRADENTON — The sound of a power drill was a fitting backdrop to Tuesday’s ceremony and speeches.

The event was the official ground breaking of the 13th Avenue Community Center’s new home, the $1.8-million Dream Center, an occasion attended by several city, community, county and corporate leaders, not to mention Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays officials, all of whose collaboration made this day happen.

Yet Patrick Carnegie, standing inside the unfinished main building of the 16,000-square foot complex, remained focused on the task ahead.

“This is just the beginning,” said the executive director of the United Community Center, which runs the 13th Avenue and Rubonia community centers. “We have a renewed mission.”

The 13th AV/Dream Center, 922 24th St. E., is part of the Norma Lloyd Park project and will house classrooms, a gymnasium, weight room, art rooms and offices.

It will accommodate 300 youths a day during the school year, and 400 to 500 daily for summer camp, Carnegie said.

The official grand opening is June 11, 2010, in conjunction with Champs Sports Celebrity Sports Night at the Sarasota Hyatt.

When Carnegie began considering plans for the Dream Center, it was nine years and a lifetime of meetings ago.

“The process to get here has been long, but it’s been worth it,” he said. “To know what’s here now, a place that’s going to bring about positive change, to develop kids to be the best they can be academically, socially and physically, it’s an amazing feeling to see it happen.”

That it took this long was touched on by a number of Tuesday’s speakers.

“We talked about it and talked about it and almost talked this thing to death,” Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston said.

“There are not too many people who can hang in there and deal with us politicians, waiting for this, waiting for that,” County Commissioner Joe McClash said. “Thank God we’re able to be here today.”

The latest boost for the project was $250,000 from a Dec. 10 congressional spending bill pushed by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.

County Commissioner Gwen Brown worked with Castor, D-Tampa, on it.

“As we look at many problems in our community, we realize there is no one answer,” Brown said Tuesday. “It is many answers that need to happen for a place for kids to go, get them involved and thinking about their future. This is one of those places.”

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055, or write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, Fl. 34206 or e-mail him at vmannix@bradenton.com. Please include a phone number for verification.

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