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Nov 13, 2009 8:45 PM by Abby Lane

City looking for ways to keep community centers open

It's a race to the finish.

Not just for a group of kids running in a local community center's gym, but also for city staffers who have a couple of months to try to find ways to keep several centers open.

"Staff is already working hard on some plans to see if there are other partners they can bring in that may be able to assist in the funding," said Paul Butcher, director of the city's Parks and Recreation department.

Four community centers, Hillside, Meadows, West and Deerfield Hills, will stay open until the end of March while other funding options are explored.  Parks staff says 4 agencies may be interested in submitting proposals.  "These are the services we like," said Paul Butcher. "This is what we have available. Could you commit to at least a year to providing these," he said.

Two local pastors may also be interested in looking into what it would take to run them.  "I think in this climate it would be a good time to try it," said Albert Loma, Senior Pastor of Victory Outreach Church.  "It would be a novel idea because everybody wants control but if you want to make a community center and the people have spoken than somebody has to step up."

"I'd love to take a stab at it," said Promise Lee, Senior Pastor of Relevant Word Christian Cultural Center.  "Our congregation would love to take a stab at it. This community would love to take a stab at keeping this community center open."

To run one community center costs the city an average of about $400,000, which includes everything like on average 3 full-time employees, rent, utilities, materials, etc.

Though the centers futures are uncertain, one thing is certain. Many kids, staff and parents hope they don't have to close their doors.

"I really am hoping that something happens and they're able to keep open," said Jessica Arcecervantes.

In January, the city will release a request for proposals and send it to different agencies.  Anyone interested should also contact the city's parks and recreation department, 719-385-5940.

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