The City of Colorado Springs today announced a path forward for the Westside Community Center. The center, located in Old Colorado City, will operate as a public-private partnership. This new operational model, which integrates feedback from resident recommendations, includes City staffing and operational funding and provides partnership and revenue-generating opportunities with external entities, including nonprofit organizations. The first phase of implementation is expected to begin in September.
“After constructive dialogue with residents, we have decided to move forward with a public-private partnership model for the Westside Community Center that integrates many of the commonalities from the community’s recommendations,” said Mayor John Suthers. “This new operational model will provide a balanced set of programs, services and businesses that will benefit the entire community. We believe it is the best and most feasible solution for the long-term success of the community center.”
Staffing for the community center will include a city-funded center director as well as the hiring of a fulltime program coordinator to develop and direct programs, partnerships and community engagement activities at the center. Hourly staff will be hired to provide administrative and site support. Additionally, the City’s Therapeutic Recreation Program (TRP) will move its staff and robust program offerings from the Sports Office in Memorial Park to the Westside Community Center.
Expanding programs and services through external partner entities is also part of the new model. A formal process for interested entities will be conducted this year and will be open to all, including organizations that have previously held programs at the community center as well as potential new partners. In early 2023, selected partners will begin operating at the site, further expanding offerings and generating revenue for the facility and its programs. At a minimum, the operating hours will be 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays and expand based on programs and services offered.
“I believe this direction from the City administration recognizes that the Westside Community Center should remain as a community center. It is not only a valuable city asset, but a community hub and gathering place for the neighborhood,” said City Councilmember, Stephannie Fortune (district 3). “The new structure clearly incorporates a blend of elements from the models put forward during the neighborhood engagement process, and I’m confident it will serve residents well. I will continue to advocate for this community center and stay engaged in the implementation of the new model. The advisory board will play an important role with City staff in charting the course for the future.”
It is estimated that the total annual budget for the center will be roughly $372,800. Under its previous operating model, Westside was allocated $100,000 annually.
A working committee formed by the Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services (PRCS) Advisory Board will be created to help inform Westside’s programs and services. This was a key request during the community engagement process.
Westside is one of four City-owned community centers. Until May 31, 2022, it had been operated by the Center for Strategic Ministry (CSM), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. CSM operated the center since 2010 when the PRCS department first sought an external operator in response to budgetary constraints. In 2020, the City began a process to find a new operator for the center which ultimately resulted in the City cancelling the procurement process after CSM’s withdrawal.