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Busiest Community Center in Montgomery County

The Potomac Community Center is a vital part of the community that offers sports, senior and community programs, said its manager Linda Barlock. Town meetings are also held at the center.

“They have everything,” said Mo Khosh of Potomac, 18, who is a frequent visitor to the center. “They’ve got weightlifting, pool [tables], different classes for fencing, a ping-pong tournament with some really good kids. They’ve got outdoor basketball too.”

Khosh’s brother Amin, 16, agreed, saying that his brother “took everything” he wanted to say.

Among other programs, the center runs “Club Friday” during the school year for children in grades 3-6. The program began 11 years ago when there had been a reduction in the budget that cut programming for children of that age group. In a cooperative effort with the Montgomery County Recreation Department, which opened up the building at night and provided staff, the Potomac Community Center advisory board found volunteers to help out.

“It was a success right off the start,” Barlock said. “There were around 200 members the first year, and our membership this year exceeded 600. On every Friday, we have about 300 kids. It varies from 300-400.”

Membership in Club Friday is based on a random selection of registrations that are made in early September. On Sept. 11, the center draws 575 members. As the year progresses, they are usually able to take additional members, Barlock said.

“This year, we probably took about 100 kids off the waiting list,” she said.

“After Hours” is another program offered for older children on Friday nights. The program targets children in grades 6-8 and runs twice a month, but faced budget cuts this year. The program averages about 200-250 kids a night.

“We’ve never turned anyone away,” Barlock said. “But we have had close to 500 people in the building on a given night.”

The center also appeals to an older age group.

Alex Taimssov, 19, said he visits the center two or three times a week to use the pool [tables] and weight room, and play air hockey.

“Besides from this center, in Potomac there’s not really much [for young people] to do,” Taimssov said.

Kouroush Taie, 20, agreed with Taimssov. “In terms of the nightlife and stuff, it’s pretty much nonexistent in Potomac,” Taie said. “The community center is a nice place to meet people that you’re familiar with or not. You usually see a lot of people from school and stuff.”

The center also offers a variety of special events that are family oriented.

“The biggest is probably our Family Fun Day,” said Barlock. The event is a cooperative effort between the Recreation Department and the Potomac Community Center Advisory Board, Barlock said.

Family Fun Day has carnival activities for children, a moon bounce, demonstrations by local Karate and ballet groups, and different bands from high schools every year, Barlock said. It runs once a year, generally from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We charge $6 for unlimited use of the things that are here and we give all kinds of prizes,” Barlock added.

Family Fun Day is always followed by Family Bingo Night, which generally runs from 5-9 p.m., Barlock said.

The Family Flea Market is another popular event offered twice a year by the center. There is usually one in Nov. and another in May.

“We usually have about 50 vendors,” Barlock said. “This past May we probably had 300-400 people come shopping.”

Manucher Brookhim, 21, said he loves the community feeling that the center gives to Potomac. “It brings such a disparate myriad of neighborhoods together and forms a more coherent whole,” he said.

Unfortunately, the fact that there are no other community centers in the Potomac area to offset the growth seen here recently is part of the reason so many neighborhoods come to use the center, Barlock said.

North Potomac and North Bethesda have asked for their own centers. “I know that the long range plan is to build some of these,” Barlock said.

The center is open Mon.-Fri. from 9 a.m.-10 p.m., and Sat. from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. It is closed on Sunday during the summer, but is open Sunday during the school year from 12-6 p.m.