Non-Profit Operation of 3 City Recreation Centers Scheduled for Council Consideration Thursday

Agreements allowing community-based organizations to operate three neighborhood centers in the City of Fresno will be considered by Fresno City Council at its July 22 meeting.

The agreements are the result of Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s proposal to work with the non-profit community to avoid closure of community centers in Fresno neighborhoods. The city’s adopted fiscal year 2011 budget calls for 10 of the City’s 17 neighborhood centers to shut their doors on Oct. 1, 2010, unless partners can be found to operate them.

City Council will consider approving agreements with three non-profit organizations:

• Reading and Beyond - lead agency responsibility to provide recreational programming at Einstein Park Neighborhood Center. Established in 1999, Reading and Beyond provides educational and social service programs at 31 sites, primarily in Fresno and Madera counties. Major program areas include literacy intervention, early childhood education, health education, college preparation and parent involvement.

• United One Productions - lead agency responsibility to provide recreational programming at Mary Ella Brown Neighborhood Center. United One Productions collaborates with local law enforcement, local business owners and individuals as well as corporations and other non-profit organizations on projects, including Bringing Broken Neighborhoods Back to Life. The organization plans to operate the United One Academy of Education, Arts and Family at the center to serve families in West Fresno.

• First Baptist Church - lead agency responsibility to provide recreational programming at Lafayette Park Neighborhood Center. First Baptist Church plans to partner with Care Fresno to offer after-school tutoring, homework assistance and computer lab access at the facility.

The agreements are for three years with an option to renew for two additional years. Under the agreements the organizations must, at minimum, provide public access to the facilities Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m.

“These difficult economic times call for everyone to work together and be creative in finding ways to provide important services throughout our community,” Mayor Swearengin said. “I commend these organizations for stepping up to the plate to offer the same or greater levels of service than the City currently provides at these centers.”

The community-based organizations will maintain and operate programs in the buildings. The City will continue to pay for gas, electricity, water, sewer and garbage services; however, if the monthly gas and electricity expense are 5 percent or more above the cost for the same month in the prior fiscal year, the organization will be required to reimburse the City for the overage on a quarterly basis.

No religious, political or any other activity outside the scope of services outlined in the agreement will be permitted. If the agreements are approved, the community-based organizations will begin operating the centers on October 1.

The initial three agreements represent the first phase of the City’s efforts to keep all neighborhood centers operating. City officials are continuing to review and negotiate agreements related to other community centers and expect to present additional agreements to council in August.

As part of the process to identify potential partners, the City conducted two public meetings with the non-profit community; initiated a “Request for Information” (RFI) process; interviewed interested organizations; and convened a community panel to review responses to the RFIs.

The City of Fresno PARCS Department will continue to operate seven “flagship” centers: Dickey Youth Development Center, Ted C. Wills, Mosqueda, Romain, Frank H. Ball, Holmes and the EOC Youth Center.

A staff report and the proposed operating agreements are available for public review on the City of Fresno website at