WENATCHEE — The Chelan-Douglas Community Action Council will take over operation of the Wenatchee Community Center next year.
The private nonprofit hopes to expand services to the low income at the center on South Chelan Avenue, in the former St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, and some day make it more of a community hub.
“It’s a great building to bring South Wenatchee together,” said Julie Kagele, deputy director of Community Action Council. “We hope to see it grow over the next five to six years.”
The city has been struggling for a year and half over what to do with the center, which is quickly draining a reserve fund set up to help cover its expenses.
The contract with Community Action Council, approved Thursday by the Wenatchee City Council, “brings full circle” the original plans for managing the building, said Dave Erickson, city parks and recreation director.
Back when the former church was redeveloped into the community center starting in 2003, the plan was for the city to take care of building maintenance and Community Action Council to operate it.
But the city ultimately decided to operate the facility itself, and has done so for the last seven years.
City officials began looking for a nonprofit to run the center to prevent the city from having to supplement the facility’s operation with general fund money. The center, which is losing $30,000 to $40,000 a year, has been covered by a reserve fund set up when the center was developed. That money is expected to run out within the next few years.
Serve Wenatchee Valley briefly considered taking over operation, and Pastor Thom Nees also submitted a proposal for operating the center. But the center’s board of directors deemed both proposals incomplete.
Earlier this year, the Community Action Council emerged as a contender. Its board of directors approved the plan this month, as did the Community Center’s board of directors.
The organization will take over operation of the center on Jan. 2.
Bob Soule, executive director of Community Action Council, said he was unsure whether his organization could operate the center until the city offered to pay a subsidy.
The city will contribute about $30,000 of federal grant money toward the center’s operation and expects to spend another $18,000 a year on building maintenance.
One city employee who currently oversees the community center will be laid off.
“This wasn’t a role that the city should have been taking on in the first place,” said Mayor Frank Kuntz, who sits on the Community Center board. “I’m thrilled that Community Action has stepped up.”
All of the community organizations now located at the center will remain.
The current board of directors will be dissolved, if approved by the City Council next month, and the city’s parks and recreation advisory board will assume oversight of the center, which is owned by the city.
Community Action Council plans to hire someone to manage the Community Center, Kagele said.