West Dallas Neighborhood Fights to Save Community Center

For generations, the Bataan Community Center in West Dallas has been the center of the community. Now the people who live around it are fighting to keep it open.

"As a kid, I played football here. I played baseball here. We had everything," Frank De Leon said. "What happened?"

The center opened in the 1940s, and it's showing its age.

"You can see how close the mold and mildew is getting," said John Darjean, as he pointed to walls and baseboards in the lunch room.

Darjean founded the non-profit Beyond Baseball, which leases the community center for summer and after-school programs. On Friday he closed down the program.

"I told the parents it's just not right and it's just not fair." he said. "I wouldn't want my child to just stay in front of this mold and mildew and get sick."

Darjean said he called Dallas Code Compliance, which issued a notice in May for substandard conditions. On Monday afternoon, a code compliance officer was back out, getting ready to issue a citation to the landlord, West Dallas Community Centers Inc.

NBC 5 called the president of the board that leases the building. That call was answered, but dropped after NBC 5 identified itself. The call has not been returned.

A real estate listing shows the community center and the five acres it sits on are on the market for more than $11 million.

"What's going to happen to the community?" asked John Sanchez, a volunteer at the community center who grew up in the West Dallas neighborhood. "I'm scared if they sell it and start building, houses will start being sold."

There is a "Save Our Bataan Community Center" meeting planned Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. at the Bataan Community Center.

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