Rec centers on the chopping block amid budget shortfall

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A $6 million budget shortfall could mean closing the door on some Portland community centers, public pools and other programs. 

The Sellwood Community Center and Columbia Indoor Pool are among the proposed closures the Portland City Council will discuss Tuesday.

Portland Parks and Recreation said next year’s budget is a challenge because revenue has not kept up with how much it costs to run the facilities. But as they make major cuts, people in those communities say they don’t want to be on the receiving end.

The department is proposing to cut 50 staff positions, reduce programming at five community centers and close the Sellwood Community Center and Columbia Pool. 

“I feel like these programs are just as good or better and I feel much more connected to the people, parents, and family by me,” parent Amy Hall said. 

More about the Portland Parks and Recreation budget

The department said the pool as lower attendance and needs at least $2 million in maintenance. Proposed one-time funding would keep the pool open for another year to give people time to find alternative locations.

“[The pool] is an invaluable resource to three or four neighborhoods around here,” Maureen Bachmann said. “I mean thousands of residents rely on this pool.”

Supporters of Help Save Columbia Pool met Monday and said their already underserved neighborhood can’t afford those cuts.

“It’s not just the right thing to do to provide services to people who have less, it also saves us all a lot of money,” Mary-Margaret Wheeler-Weber said. “When it comes to things like improved health outcomes.”

A statement from Portland Parks and Recreation spokesperson Mark Ross read in part, “The deficit will only continue to grow, cannot be fixed with one-time support from the City’s general fund, nor a levy or bond because those are not ongoing solutions.”  

The parks department will present its proposal Tuesday and the public will have a chance to give their thoughts in a town hall meeting on April 2. 

Read Portland Parks and Recreation’s presentation here

 

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