Push begins for Westside Center

       Two public meetings Monday, Jan. 11 and Wednesday, Jan. 13 at the Westside Community Center, 1628 W. Bijou St., will address the future of the city's money- starved host facility, which currently only has funding to stay open through the end of March.
       The meetings are, in chronological order:
  • Monday, Jan. 11, from 6 to 8 p.m. - City officials will talk with citizens about a proposed zone change (necessary because of the city moving the center to the former Buena Vista school property last June) and about a development plan showing proposed uses for the site. The zone would change from the type used for schools to a type called PF [Public Facility]. A PF zone would allow such uses as non-profits leasing space at the center and citizens planting a community garden, according to Steve Tuck of City Land Use Review.
           For more information on the Jan. 11 meeting, call Tuck at 385-5366 or e-mail stuck@springsgov.com.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 13, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. - District 3 City Council-member Sean Paige will moderate this meeting, and other council members may attend, according to Brian Kates, director of the Westside Center. “The main purpose will be how we [the center] can stay here beyond March,” he said. “Sean will answer questions from the community, and people can find out how to be involved.”
           The meeting is one of four in January regarding the future of city community centers - all four of which have uncertain futures after March. The other three, all starting at 6:30, will be Jan. 19 at Hillside; Jan. 20 at Deerfield, and Jan. 27 at Meadows Park.
           Kates added that City Parks (which runs the centers) is putting out a request for proposals, inviting non-profit organizations to negotiate with the city on how they might use space at the center. “I don't think any reasonable offer will be refused,” he said. If, for example, an organization believed it could run the entire facility,” we may just hand over the keys,” he said. “But it's more likely that non-profits would be working in conjunction with city staff while reducing the financial burden on the city. This has proven popular in other communities.”
           It was on Paige's request that City Council agreed to fund the centers three months into 2010 instead of closing them at the end of 2009, as originally planned because of the tight budget this year. Contacted about the situation, Paige said that although “we're kind of feeling our way,” he was “encouraged by the level of thinking going on with these issues. I'm confident we can come up with solutions.”
           For more information on the Jan. 13 meeting, call the Westside Center at 385-7920, or contact Paige at 210-5741 or spaige@springsgov.com.

    Westside Pioneer article