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Community center operations up in the air

The future is uncertain about Sunnyside's Promise's role in operating the Sunnyside Community Center beyond the end of this month.

Sunnyside's Promise has been running the center as a subcontractor, but says it needs $55,000 from the city of Sunnyside to pay for a director and part-time janitor.

If the funds aren't in hand by March 1, the agency says it will turn operations back to the city. That could possibly close the center on at least a short-term basis.

"We can't use our core funding from other sponsors for the community center," says Nate Bridges, chair of Sunnyside's Promise.

Bridges says the $55,000 is separate from the $60,000 Sunnyside's Promise is seeking from each of the three core sponsors; the city, the Sunnyside School District and Sunnyside Community Hospital.

He says it just comes down to getting an agreement between the non-profit and the city for running the community center.

But City Manager Mark Gervasi says Sunnyside first needs to meet with the other funding partners before giving money to Sunnyside's Promise for center operations.

"All funding parties will be meeting to see how they work through funding issues with the Promise," Gervasi said in an e-mail to the Daily Sun News. "I believe the mayor and city council will have to work out details as one of the core funders as to use of the community center."

Gervasi says council doesn't want to see the community center close. He says it comes down to not if the center will be funded, but how and who will operate it.

"We all need to determine the most appropriate path that is in the best interest of the community," he said. "The city wants the community center open for programs for kids and adults. As to how that takes place remains to be seen."

As for Sunnyside's Promise, Gervasi said that's a separate matter council will take up this month.

"I believe the city council will make a decision to either support the Promise or not at the Feb. 28 council meeting," he said. "It's too early to tell if support is given how much that will be."

One way or another, Bridges says Sunnyside's Promise needs to have an answer soon so it can stop pouring core funds into the community center.

"While they're taking their time, we're burning cash," Bridges said.

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