Meadows Park director to run Westside Center also


Brian Kates stands inside the gymnasium at the Westside Community Center.
Westside Pioneer photo
For the past 11 years, Brian Kates has been the director of the Meadows Park Community Center. Now, with the city budget cutbacks, which led to the resignation of eight-year Westside Community Center director E.D. Rucker, he will head up that operation as well. This will include overseeing the publishing of Westside's quarterly activities brochure in January, which for the first time will be combined with Meadows.
       Kates has one more task: help find a way to make both centers self-sufficient, because if that can't happen, city officials have said they will be forced to close them by the end of March.
       Other than these challenges, working at West will be like a homecoming for Kates. “I got my start here,” he reminsced in an interview last week. “I was the teen director at West from 1994 to 1998.”
       Those were active times, with 250 to 300 students showing up every Friday for the center's teen dances, Kates recalled. “But it kept the kids off the streets. And the need is just as strong now.”
       The difficulty in making community centers pay for themselves is that they are traditionally a neighborhood service, intended in many cases to give recreational and learning opportunities to people who can't afford to pay much. But now, “everything will be cost-analyzed,” Kates said. “If we can find programs that make a profit, perhaps they can subsidize those that don't.”
       The business community will be approached for help. For example, the $2-a-day cost for each student in the center's after-school programs could be covered through a commercial sponsor, Kates added.
       Kates said he will also be looking for ways to cut the operating costs. “I'd like to provide just core services,” he said. “We want to know what the Westside needs and wants and come up with a priority list.”
       Exact dollar amounts needed to keep the centers running after March have not been announced, but previous numbers from Rucker for 2010 projected $75,000 in earnings against $362,000 in costs. Calculated for three-quarters of a year, a difference of well over $200,000 would need to be made up.
       Ron Cousar, a City Parks administrator whose tasks include overseeing the centers, said that the city is planning “community forums” for the centers, and that dates for these will be announced in the near future.

Westside Pioneer article