Concerned Mesa residents gathered at the Washington Activity Center Thursday night to voice their displeasure over the city’s plan to close the longtime community landmark.

Residents of the community surrounding the activity center at 44 E. 5th St. protested the city’s decision to cut funding, and many said the center is essential to children in the community.

“It’s not about the money; it’s about helping these kids realize that there is a better world out there,” said Pastor John Braaten, who volunteers at the center.

Residents addressed income concerns saying that other options for recreation were too far away or had entrance fees to expensive to afford.

Mesa officials present explained that the city’s proposed $18 million dollar budget cut, as of march, led to the necessity to cut $1 million from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Mesa spokesman Rhett Evans said the City Council is set to adopt the proposed budget reductions on June 2. A public hearing will follow on June 23, and residents can address concerns before a final budget plan is adopted. Budget reductions are set to go into effect on July 1, he said.

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