Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fate Of Laurelhurst Community Center Once Again In Danger

We recently posted about the Mayor's proposal to further drastically reduce hours at the Laurelhurst and Magnuson Community Centers as well as many other community centers starting in January.

Both Laurelhurst and Magnuson have been classified as "Tier 2b" level of service, which translates to hours being additionally reduced from 35 to 25 hours per week.  The proposal not only classifies each Community Center's level of service and ranking against each other, but also divides all the city Community Centers into five geographically based service areas, each staffed with a team, led by a Senior Recreation Coordinator.

With the proposed reducton in hours, it is unclear if the Magnuson staff, who has been managing the Laurelhurst Community Center classes, programs and administrative duties will be able to continue to oversee the classes (such as nerf soccer, pottery, adult softball, adult fitness, and some other programming) and the popular special events, such as the Egg Hunt and Salmon Bake, they were able to continue for the neighborhood this year. 

"And it is unclear if anyone familiar with our programming and community will be assigned to Laurelhurst," Kathleen  with the Laurelhurst Community Center Advisory Council told us.

The City Council has not yet approved the proposed 2012 budget so there is still time for the community to speak up about the fate of the Community Centers.

You can send email to City Council members. Here is a list of Council Members and their contact information. Kathleen  said that the Council has heard from very few citizens thus far.

When writing to Council members, Kathleen encourages people to to tell their stories of what the community center means to them, what they are already missing and will miss with further cuts,  what they want/expect from their community center, how the limited use in 2011 and the further reductions/changes has affected/will affect them.

Kathleen told us:
The way for the community center (and the gym after school hours) to be available for more programs and more community use is to have more hours and more professional programming staff at the center. FYI, even though we have had some sort of a joint use agreement with the school district for 40-50 years at Laurelhurst Gym (see inscription near the street-side entrance,) our community center was counted as having "no gym" in the allocation to the tiered system. The fact that the gym is off premises (and highly used) increases the advisory council's programming expenses due to the need for a building monitor, etc.

Please help us keep programs at Laurelhurst! We need to let the city council know that we want and need our community center to be the heart of our community. If we want to sustain programs at our community center, we, as a community, need to tell the members of city council before they pass the mayor's proposed budget.

We need more professional staff hours in order to manage programs and provide professional service to members of the community. We need more open hours that fit with the community's use of the center. And we also need community members to help us create, build and maintain programming that will thrive in the Laurelhurst Community Center.

In future years, it appears that community centers' budget allocations will continue to be based on usage, so if we don't use the community center, and if we don't work together as a community to help rebuild sustainable programming at our community center, I think the city will assume we don't want the few hours and professional staff we've been given, and allocate them somewhere else. 
There is a Public Hearing today at 5pm and also on October 26th starting at 5:30pm at City Hall (600 4th Avenue.)

Kathleen also told us that a community meeting is also in the works to be held at the Laurelhurst Community Center, during the time of the standing Laurelhurst Community Center Advisory Council Meetings (third Thursdays) on October 20th, probably at 7pm, though that time is not yet confirmed from the City 

For more information:

Press Release 
2012 Budget Overview
Community Center Operations 2012 Budget and Analysis

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