Dunbar Recreation Center gets big boost from NCAA - CBS46 News

Dunbar Recreation Center gets big boost from NCAA

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ATLANTA (CBS46) -

The NCAA holds a 4 Courts in 4 Days initiative during the Final Four tournament as a way to leave a positive and lasting impact on the host community.

It chooses four courts to be repaired, refurbished or to get new equipment.

The Dunbar Recreation Center in the Mechanicsville community will receive the biggest makeover, a new basketball court. It will be dedicated in memory of Tyler Ugolyn, a former NCAA athlete who lost his life in 9/11.

Those involved feel this court will make a dramatic difference for this community.

"Whenever the Final Four comes to a city, they work to partner and invest in that community," Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs Commissioner George Dusenbury said.

Dunbar reaps the rewards of this years Final Four partnership.

"It's always great to get that kind of investment that the NCAA is making, not just the money, but they're bringing attention to our facility here in Mechanicsville - to the Dunbar Recreation Center," Dusenbury said. 

Former facility manager Lakeisha Walker admits the court at the rec center was in desperate need of a makeover.

"The conditions of the gym was horrible from the floor. I don't know if it was tile or some sort of rubber floor. The walls were in horrible condition, needed to be painted; the ceilings, its was really bad," Walker said.

Walker wished she could provide a better environment for the kids at Dunbar.

"It made me feel like I was doing them a disservice because they deserve more. It was all they had, all we had, so it was OK in the sense of having a safe environment for them to where they're just not outside wandering," Walker said.

The rec center is at the center of a struggling neighborhood with boarded homes visible, graffiti, poverty and gang activity. People at the center say the community could use the reinvestment.

"They really need a positive experience. We'd had some issues here, unfortunately. 30 Deep is a gang that is here in Mechanicsville, and there was a disconnect, basically, with a disinvestment in recreation and those kids felt abandoned," Dusenbury said.

But it's not a neighborhood without hope, one that will be lifted through the community service project of a new basketball court, complete with the Final Four logo. 

"It's a totally different transformation. It's brighter. The floor is excellent, gorgeous floor. It feels good. Just the feeling when I walk in, it gives me energy just to see a difference," Walker said.

The city of Atlanta joined in the transformation, updating and upgrading the computer lab to offer new computers and a better learning area.

"When you have these opportunities, these positive opportunities for kids, that's going to prevent groups like 30 Deep from forming," Dusenbury said.

"I think it will definitely let the community see that we have not forgotten about them," Walker said.

The official court dedication will happen on Sunday, April 7, with Mayor Kasim Reed, Ugolyn's family and representative from the NCAA.

The other facilities that will benefit from the 4 Courts in 4 Days are: the Carver Boys and Girls Club, Harland Boys and Girls Club and the Peachtree Hills Center for Hope.

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