St. Paul to Privatize Recreation Centers
Recreation centers in St. Paul once run by the city will soon go private.
Ebony Young says, the Conway Recreation Center is a blessing. This single mother says, the football program has given her sons mentors.
"The hardest thing is is finding good role models, Conway has provided that for me simply because I have little boys," Young said.
But change is on the way for the center. The city of St. Paul plans to shift Conway Rec. from city run to privately run.
"In facing tough budget decisions we've turned to service partners to extend programming at recreation facilities when we were no longer and able to financially provide those services," Mike Hahm of the City of St. Paul said.
The city presently has 25 recreation centers. The privatize program seems to be working because the city over the years has privatized well over a dozen centers in various parts of St. Paul.
Partners take on the expenses that are associated with operating the building and then depending on the contract be open for the public for a certain amount of time. From the city's view Conway is just the next center in line to be taken over.
Betsy Leach of the District One Community Council says, she is concerned that the after school and sports programs at Conway will be cut.
Plus, with twenty thousand people living in the area who will service their exercise related needs?
"Six and a half years ago there were four rec centers in this area. Once Conway closes there will be one left," Leach said.
The only center in the area will be Battle Creek nearly a half mile away. Young says, the change would leave the community feeling abandoned.
"It would kind of be a void," Young said.
The City of St. Paul says, the cities of Mounds View and Minneapolis have similar successful programs.