City to decide on future of community center

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – The city is left in a quandary regarding its community center after a nonprofit that was to run it at no cost to the city pulled out of the agreement.

Acting City Administrator David Boomer said Tuesday that The Senior Alliance, a Wayne-based nonprofit that submitted a bid in May to run the center, declined to go forward with the plan.

That leaves the city with a building to operate that is not included in the budget, and with three retirements — including that of Parks and Recreation Director Anthony Napolitano, tendered to take effect in the next two weeks — no staff to run it.

“Now we’re left today with no plan, no staff and no funding,” Boomer said.

And the city has been paying for the building without adding it into the budget since the beginning of the fiscal year, which began July 1, a violation of state law.

“We are in violation today of the state budget act because were operating an entity that we dont have in our budget,” Councilman Bob Keenan said. “When you don’t put something in the budget and the budget ends and the doors are still open, you’re in violation. That’s a problem for me.”

Councilors discussed making a budget amendment to allot money to run or close the building, but first they need to decide whether to keep it open and how much each option will cost.

Boomer discussed hiring former director Carson Smith to help with running the building, either as it stands now or with minimal programs, or with designing an “exit plan” for the building.

Some councilors also took issue with hiring anyone while the city faces a $4 million deficit and the threat of an emergency financial manager.

“It’s gonna be more and more and more (money),” Councilman Larry Templin said. “When do we stop? realistically, it needs to be closed. If you don’t have the money, you need to close it.”

Keenan also questioned whether the city could move the City Hall to the building, for which residents are still paying an improvement millage.

If the ice rink were not open, Boomer said it may be a possibility. Councilors also discussed putting a levy on the November ballot to support the community center.

The issue is to be further discussed at the council’s meeting Tuesday.