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Community Center faces uncertain future

What does the future hold for the Indian Valley Community Center?

On Jan. 15, Indian Valley Recreation and Parks Department Director Matt Cerney sent an email to volunteers and community members about the Community Center indicating the center is falling on hard times financially.

“IVRPD and the Indian Valley Community Center are experiencing financial difficulties that are alarming enough that the IVRPD Board has decided that, in the need to uphold community trust and remain transparent, we must announce this publicly,” wrote Cerney.

Cerney offered that the cause of the near insolvency is due to “sustained (negative) and ongoing two-year disparity between IVRPD’s income [and] outgoings.”

He warned that insolvency could happen within a year.

Along with the notice of the failing financial health of the center came an outreach call. The committee which runs the center’s planning — Community Center Committee (CCC) — is now asking more community members to step forward and join the committee.

In late February, the district will host an internal CCC meeting with new members to discuss where to go from here and develop a plan based on any new information and ideas. The new plan will be revealed to the public at the district’s March public meeting.

At that meeting the full financial situation will be disclosed, the CCC will announce any progress, recruit more members and, according to Cerney, will have an open discussion. He plans more public outreach and more media exposure on the issue.

In April the CCC hopes to have consolidated all information and data and analysis to make and publish a plan to put the Community Center back on track in 2020.

The Community Center has always had its share of controversies. Some community members before the project began in the early 2000s insisted there was no need for the center. With a population of less than 1,200, and the rental possibilities at the Greenville Town Hall, various church social halls with kitchens, the Taylorsville Historic Hall, and Greenville High School, the competition for small events meant that the center could be at a disadvantage.

The Community Center once housed a community garden, but found lack of interest in sweat equity to keep it going. GHS already had a vibrant garden.

The play equipment out back was deemed great for small children by many parents, but offered little for older children’s interests such as a skate park or small court sports.

Elderly community members have often cited that the restrooms being on the outside of the building, and much colder, make it less desirable to hold meetings there.

The cavernous nature of the building makes for troublesome acoustics for theatre or music performances according to many local performers.

In order to pay for the maintenance and heating of the building, rental prices had to reflect those costs often making the cost seem too high for users to make a profit or break even.

Indian Valley Community Center’s lack of a commercial kitchen was often cited internally as a reason that rentals were not more frequent, but commercial kitchens are prohibitively expensive in even much larger communities and nearby churches and halls had cheaper rates. Indeed fundraising in recent years concentrated on both installing better signage and raising funds to convert the small conference room into a kitchen.

The Indian Valley Resource Center office, which provided income, moved to the Greenville Wellness Center upon its opening. The Greenville Wellness Center also has an activity room available to rent out for less cost.

Some community members felt the center belonged more to newcomers arriving in the valley in the 2000s than a center that was more organically derived from long-standing community members.

Fundraisers and other activities like the Sweetheart Dance sported very low turnout. The Oktoberfest scheduled for last year was canceled as well. A few fundraisers, such as the Spring Shindig — are prohibitively expensive for the demographics of most Greenville families.

Is the Community Center targeting specific demographics? Will those demographics come to an event? Are there enough volunteers to keep the center going? Those are all questions on the table.

Bright spots

For all its issues, the Community Center had some bright spots in the last year.

Hosting sporting events seems to be a natural fit. Last year saw gymnastics expositions and martial arts competitions. The center also hosts classes for children in gymnastics, martial arts and ballet.

Indian Valley Academy’s elementary program is in negotiation to use the facility for sports education opportunities. The school is housed in the school wing of the Methodist Church in Greenville across the street; the students already frequent the adjacent park.

For more information about coming to a meeting or offering ideas, the center is open from 1 to 5 p.m. daily and can be reached at 284-7385.

Board meetings are held the third Wednesday of every month, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Minutes, agendas and information on the financial situation can be found on the www.ivrpd.org website.

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