Budget knife spares center
Council heeds parks director’s community plea

       Colorado Springs City Council directed some $8 million in spending cuts at its Jan. 26 meeting, and needs to cut that much or more Feb. 9 to balance the revenue- weak 2009 city budget.
       However, two major Westside operations that receive city funding were not touched Jan. 26, and one - the West Intergenerational Center at 25 N. 20th St. - appears to be untouchable.
       Parks Director Paul Butcher told council he believes that West and community centers like it are too important to close. “Everything we do at Parks is important, but particulary community centers,” he elaborated afterwards. “For some folks it's where they go for their social services and to get all kinds of support and help.”
       Still potentially on the list for funding cutbacks (but evidently not closure) is Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site. According to a city “worst case” document that the City Manager's Office prepared before the Jan. 26 meeting, a $1.04 million savings could be found by cancelling “repair and renovation projects at numerous park facilities such as the Sertich Ice Center, Pioneers Museum, Rock Ledge Ranch, Memorial Sports Office, community cen-ters, picnic shelters and park restrooms throughout the park system.”
       Council did not go for this option; instead, at least for now, Parks is looking at boosting its revenues through increased recreational fees, Butcher said.
       The “worst case” document also had capsulized what would happen if the West Center closed, for a net savings of $270,011. Impacted would have been an estimated 54,976 annual participants. Shut down would have been the following:
  • Programs providing supervision, education and recreation for at risk teens.
  • Senior programs providing meals, social interaction, health education and clinics.
  • Temporary aid including food, financial help, clothing, transportation and life sustaining efforts for families in need.
           Also, if the center closed, it would mean numerous services or activities needing to find new locations. The “worst case” document lists School District 11 (middle school and adult classes), Pikes Peak Community Action Agency - Billie Speilman Center (assistance to the needy), Organization of Westside Neighbors (meetings), AARP (driver safety classes), CSU 4-H (summer classes), Department of Human Services (Grandparents Advocacy Group and Teen Self-Sufficiency Program), West Star (youth/adult programs), Visiting Nurse Association (toenail trimming), SoCo Basketball (youth girls basketball), Pikes Peak Library District (reading club) and the Rock Climbing Center (rock climbing program).

    Westside Pioneer article