Three Norwalk school gyms are now re-opened to the public for the spring.
Mayor Harry Rilling joined Recreation and Parks Director Mike Mocciae and council members at Ben Franklin Gymnasium on Thursday to announce funds have been made available to re-open the gymnasiums of Benjamin Franklin Middle School, Columbus Elementary School, and Roton Middle School.
"It's really important for the kids as well as the older youth in the community to participate," said Recreation and Parks Director Mike Mocciae.
"Keeping kids in a positive program is number one, being that there's such a lack of programs here in the city," said Norwalk councilman Travis Simms. "We're looking to work together and collaborate more together, make sure that we are being mindful, putting programs here that is going to serve the youth here in the city."
Due to budget cuts in response to the economic downturn, the gymnasiums haven't been funded for free use in seven years.
"When you close the gyms and the young people are hanging out on the street, you put them in a position where they're hanging around with nothing to do, that's when kids can get mischievous and it causes problems and you don't want kids hanging around in the street."
The gyms will remain opened through May 30th and resume starting in November through May 30th of 2015. Rilling says police officers will be on watch.
"They would have community police officers in and around the open gyms, so that the kids can feel safe, the parent can feel safe, and to know their kids are being watched and they have a police officer in the area to help out if anything happens or if they need anything."
Rilling says he has also put aside money for the free use and revitalization of outdoor parks.