Sellwood, Woodstock fear potential PPR budget cuts

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Dozens of Portland community center members are rounding up support to save some of the centers from closing down.

Mayor Ted Wheeler asked the different city bureaus to suggest ways to cut their budgets by 5%, and Portland Parks and Recreation budget cuts would potentially shut down Woodstock, Sellwood, Fulton and Hillside Community Centers.

Not only do the Woodstock and Sellwood Community Centers offer preschool, but they provide art and taekwondo classes and a space for community meetings as well as a room for clubs and organizations to gather.

The Woodstock Community Center, 5905 SE 43rd Avenue in Portland, March 16, 2018 (KOIN)

But neighbors told KOIN 6 News it’s not just kids affected if the centers shut down. They can’t imagine losing art and exercise classes for all ages and meeting space. That’s why they’re planning a Saturday morning rally at Sellwood Community Center to highlight the potential closures before Wheeler makes his budget decisions in April.

The parks department estimates closing Woodstock would save $35,000 a year. But a friends’ group already helps cover some costs. They’re angry they have to fight to save the centers rather than tend to them.

“We pay all janitorial paper products, the outdoor grounds, repairs. If we had known there was a problem we would have addressed that, too,” Emily Golden Fields said.

“I don’t really see how they’re going to save enough to make it worth displacing,” said Liz Sheridan, the mother of a preschooler at Woodstock. The center has benefited her daughter, who is doing math problems, worksheets and writing at a kindergarten level thanks to Woodstock Community Center. “It’s remarkable,” she said. 

The mayor’s proposed budget will be finalized on April 30. There are two public forums where people can share their opinions, on April 3 and April 17 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The location has yet to be decided. 

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