The same Christian organization that has run the Westside Community Center for the past 12 years will likely continue to oversee the operations of the popular center for at least 15 years, the city of Colorado Springs said Thursday.
The Center for Strategic Ministry, a community outreach program in Woodmen Valley Chapel, topped the list in the search for a new director that began last year.
City council does not have to approve an assessment committee’s recommendation to hire the Center for Strategic Ministry, city spokeswoman Jennifer Schreuder said.
A new contract will require administrative approval, she said, from Mayor John Suthers and / or Chief of Staff Jeff Greene.
City officials would not say how many offers were submitted on this tour, as the process is not finalized, she said.
The repurposed elementary school property has become a popular item in the neighborhood, and residents have fought for over a year to make sure it stays that way.
This year, 125 programs were held on the three-building campus at 1628 W. Bijou St., said Reverend Stu Davis, chairman of the board of directors of the Center for Strategic Ministry and pastor of the city’s impact for Woodmen Valley Chapel.
These include babysitting services, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, fitness classes, a pantry, daily meals for the elderly, a nursing home, and other activities.
Additionally, Davis said, hundreds of individuals have rented spaces for baby shower, birthdays and other events.
The nonprofit wanted to get out of the contract and informed the city last year that it would cease its role as the contract was due to expire at the end of this year.
Davis told The Gazette in August 2020 that it was time for the Center for Strategic Ministry to look at other projects.
But that has changed.
“We’ve spent the past 12 years working really hard to make the community center a hub of activity for this community, and everything was on an uptrend until COVID hit,” Davis said.
“We didn’t want the last 12 years to count for nothing; we wanted to continue to build a legacy and serve the neighborhood well.
The city’s parks, recreation and culture department first issued a request for proposals for a new operator in November 2020 and announced in July that it had failed to secure a deal with its major applicants, which included a charter school and the YMCA.
The city reopened the bidding process in October, with officials pledging to keep neighbors’ concerns in mind.
Residents objected to the city saying in August 2020 that current use of the center might not be the best solution and that a for-profit business might be a better use. This idea was later withdrawn as a consideration.
A coalition to save the center as an asset for the neighborhood has been formed.
Some things will change, Davis said, but not until the second quarter of next year, when the new contract goes into effect.
“Today’s news allows us to communicate a level of stability to other stakeholders on campus and to work on projects and ideas that we have retained,” said Davis.
Details will need to be worked out, but social enterprises and growing offerings for families and children are among the possibilities, he said.
“We already serve a lot of seniors and receive constant requests for more programs for families and children,” said Davis.
Schreuder said the Center for Strategic Ministry is the # 1 candidate based on meeting the criteria of being a financially stable entity that could manage, operate and maintain the community center, ensuring that the site “supports and encourages activities which will provide beneficial services to the West Quarter as well as the community at large ”, and reduce the maintenance and capital requirements on the city by taking these aspects.
The city has set aside $ 1.375 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding for priority capital improvements, she said.
Some city council members noted that the city spends less money on the Midwest than it does on other community centers.
Davis said financial details need to be negotiated, but his organization’s proposal includes a request for additional funding from the city.
Its organization offers to take care of the daily maintenance costs, glass breakage, the fittings remaining the responsibility of the city.
“We’re really excited,” Davis said. “For many people in the neighborhood who have come to appreciate the center, it will be a relief for them that we have a response from the city, to build on what has been a successful program and inject more resources into the center. . “
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