City of Tulsa, Reed Community Foundation Team up to Bring Back Ben Hill Community Center
North Tulsa’s Ben Hill Community Center was once set to be demolished.
Soon, it will be the new home of the Reed Community Foundation.
The City of Tulsa will pay $177,000 for exterior repairs at Ben Hill Community Center, while the Reed Foundation will foot the bill for an interior renovation before moving into the building next spring.
The city's portion will come from funding for Ben Hill Park repairs in a 2006 sales tax package.
Park Director Anna America has been leading a charge to fix Tulsa’s parks and rec centers since taking the job.
"We just let these things fall apart in these neighborhoods, and a park can and should be the heart of a neighborhood. And this park has such a proud history in this neighborhood, and we didn’t do what we should and take care of it," America said.
City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper represents the district Ben Hill Park is in and said she’s proud to see the building saved.
"I know that Rev. Ben Hill, the namesake of this facility who was also a pillar in this community, would also be honored and proud today to see that this community institution will be revived, and we’re going to bring life back to a space in this community that has laid dormant for far too long," Hall-Harper said.
The Reed Foundation is run by former boxer Keith "Coach" Reed. It offers after-school transportation, tutoring, activities and meals for kids aged roughly 4 to 12, and evening boxing and workout programs for troubled youths up to about 20 years old.
Reed said he wants Ben Hill to be the heart of the community again.
"We don’t need kids out in the neighborhood trying to find gangs to be their family. This is family right here. God lives here. This is where everybody can love each other, all nationalities, have fun, enjoy each other. Look at this park. It’s beautiful," Reed said.
The Reed Foundation plans to have a gym, educational center and STEM lab, food and clothing pantry, and a counseling area in the community center, and Reed hopes to help more kids in their new home.
The upcoming Improve Our Tulsa sales tax renewal would also allocate $2.75 million for a total overhaul of Ben Hill Park around the community center.