When ground breaks for the new Scotland Neighborhood Recreation Center, members of historically black and historically white churches will join in the ceremony.
"Bette Thompson, African-American and a member of Scotland AME Zion in Potomac, and Judy Walser, white and a member of Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac, will be united once again" at the ceremony, according to an Action in Montgomery news statement.
The groundbreaking ceremony takes place on at the Scotland Neighborhood Recreation Center (7700 Scotland Dr., Potomac).
"These two women, who are both in their mid-70s, are tremendously proud that their communities came together to ensure that this day would finally come. ... Thompson is the matriarch of the Scotland Community and of Save our Scotland. ... Walser is a longtime leader of the countywide grassroots organization Action in Montgomery. Both women brought together hundreds of Montgomery county residents across race, religion and economic barriers to win $30 million for four neglected African-American community centers, including the Scotland Center. They won these government funds in 2008 when their county was slashing projects due to $300 million in budget shortfalls," the statement added.
The existing Scotland Neighborhood Recreation Center is to be "completely removed and the new neighborhood center ... will feature a new two-level structure that features a new gymnasium, two multi-purpose activity rooms, game room, weight and exercise room, spacious social hall and much more," according to a statement from the Montgomery County executive's office.
The facility will be designed in accordance with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines for LEED Silver certification, the county executive's statement added.
Mable Thomas, former vice principal of Montgomery County’s segregated black high school, said that before "the Civil Rights movements, school facilities, including the school that became the Ross Boddy Community Center, were the primary centers for social, civic and recreational activities in the segregated African-American communities. This history must be kept alive as a legacy for a younger generation."
The four community centers—Plum Gar, Sandy Spring, Good Hope and Scotland—not only serve as social centers of the community and places for recreation, but also hold deep historic importance. But, all four are in need of improvements, as the Action in Montgomery news statement explained:
- Scotland in Potomac was built on land given to the county by the Scotland Community in 1971. The gym was so small that teams could not play more than three-on-three basketball. Flooding occurred during moderate rainfall. The tutoring rooms for after-school activities were so small that only a few students could be accommodated.
- Ross Boddy in Sandy Spring: The building has not seen significant renovations since it was built in the 1950s. The bathrooms still are sized for elementary-school students.
- Good Hope in Silver Spring: The facility has no place for people to work out or do more than one non-gym activity at a time.
- Plum Gar in Germantown: The weight room can only fit two machines, and most of the facility is in a trailer.
Action in Montgomery is a countywide, multi-racial, interfaith, non-partisan organization with 30 congregational and neighborhood organizations representing over 30,000 adults.
Some of the group's other recent successes include: "spearheading the faith effort for the Maryland DREAM Act [and securing more than] $280 million for affordable housing (HIF) and $30 million to completely renovate four community centers in historic African-American neighborhoods," according to a statement.
Also attending Wednesday's groundbreaking are Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, County Council President Nancy Navarro and Council Member Nancy Floreen, according to a county office of public information statement.
Editor's note: This post has been updated.