Woodstock & Sellwood are in an uproar over the latest city plan to close their Community Centers

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - Inside the Woodstock Community Center on February 10th, petitioners - with a camera from KPTV Channel 12 present - gather, before heading out onto Woodstock Boulevard to get signatures to support keeping the imperiled Center open. On Saturday, February 10th, a dozen people gathered at 10 a.m. at the Woodstock Community Center in preparation for petitioning the neighborhood to support keeping the Center open.

The venerable Center, once a "bungalow style" city fire station and for decades the heart of the Woodstock community, is once again threatened with closure by city budget cuts, as reported in a headline story in last month's BEE.

Over fifteen hundred people had already signed the petition online – but because not everyone has access or ability to use social media, the Friends of the Woodstock Community Center (FWCC) decided to petition in person along Woodstock Boulevard. Over two days – that Saturday, and Sunday – FWCC collected 325 signatures in about three hours.

Julie Currin and her seven-year old son Quincy came to Woodstock for the petition event from the Sellwood neighborhood, where their family uses the Sellwood Community Center for many classes and activities. It's similarly threatened again this year.

"Quincy takes the school bus directly to Sellwood Community Center from his school [Duniway] four days a week, for their after-school program there. He also did their 'No Bummer Summer Camp' almost all summer long last summer, and will register for the same program this summer," reports his mother.

Currin continued her remarks about the center: "It really is a lifeline for our family. It provides affordable, quality childcare right in our neighborhood. With the closure of The [Westmoreland] Boys & Girls Club, the elementary schools' after-school programs are dealing with an incredible wait-list, even with Sellwood Community Center being open.

"The summer programs are almost half the price of the other area programs, and with longer hours to accommodate working parents; and the staff and the programs there are of such good quality. The Community Center truly is the heart and soul of our neighborhood."

From all reports regarding the potential closing of these two Southeast Portland Community Centers, hundreds of people are distressed at the thought of having "the heart carved out" of their communities' social and recreational life, so they are taking action.

Dawn Haecker, the FWCC coordinator of the petition event, has a son attending the WCC Preschool. She told THE BEE, "We love the Woodstock Community Center and all that it offers. I want other families to be able to connect to their community in such a warm, inviting, wholesome way."

In addition to its preschool, the Woodstock Community Center has many classes for all ages, including "messy art" for kids, ballet, guitar, Tae Kwon Do, Zumba, Writing Memoirs, and Hula, among others. It also has been the meeting place for the Woodstock Neighborhood Association and Al-Anon for decades, and offers rental space for events.

The FWCC has had a partnership agreement with Portland Parks & Recreation for fifteen years, dating back to the first time it was threatened with closure – during which time FWCC volunteers have kept the Center cost neutral for the city by itself paying for custodial services, building improvements, and in-kind yard maintenance for the Center.

Before heading out with clipboards and petitions, the FWCC volunteers stopped in at Advantis Credit Union, newly open just a half block away, to put their "tokens" into the voting jar for the Friends of the Woodstock Community Center. Each token was worth a $5 donation from the credit union.

Advantis reported on the following Monday that their Woodstock Community Grant Program still had about three hundred tokens left that had not yet been "voted with" by the chosen benefiting groups – FWCC for the Community Center, three neighborhood elementary schools (Lewis, Woodstock, and Duniway) – and the Woodstock Stakeholders' Street Art Project. Advantis will continue the open voting process until all one thousand tokens are voted.

Anyone who would like to express support for the Woodstock or Sellwood Community Centers can see a list of e-mail addresses and phone numbers on the Woodstock Neighborhood Association website –

To sign the online petition yourself, go to --

The next two community forums for public input about the city-mandated Parks Department budget cuts will be:

· April 3, 2018, 6:30pm - 8:30pm  Location to be determined

· April 17, 2018, 6:30pm - 8:30pm  Location to be determined

We should be able to report those forum locations in the April issue of THE BEE.

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