As the City of Portland again passes through "budget season", lifelong supporters of the historic Sellwood Community Center, such as Gail Hoffnagle, say they are tired of its city funding always being "on the chopping block", as it has been year after year.
Hoffnagle's mother was involved with the century-old Center back in 1924; and she went to preschool there, and later took all kinds of classes and played in sports there as well. "It really made a positive difference in my life; and then, I ended up working for the Parks Bureau for 17 years," she told THE BEE while standing in the lobby of the Center.
"It's especially a good place for the kids who don't feel they 'fit in' at school; here they can have a good time and learn new skills," Hoffnagle said. "There is a lot of camaraderie here, and that helps build neighborhood cohesiveness."
When word came down on February 2 that she and her associates wouldn't have to "fight City Hall" this year to keep the Community Center funded this budget cycle, she said she was overjoyed. "I'm thrilled that they've decided to keep the small community centers. It shows they recognize the importance of small centers where we can really get to know people and form a sense of community."
About that decision, Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz said that Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) is challenged to maintain parks and recreation system, especially when the Bureau has been required to cut its budget in six of the last eight years.
"While I'm glad the [PP&R] Budget Advisory Committee did not include the possibility of closing Sellwood Community Center in this year's Requested Budget, many other beloved and valuable programs and services had to be put on the table as potential cuts instead," Fritz acknowledged.
"It is important to remember," added Fritz, "that we are only at the beginning of the City's budget process. I will continue to advocate to my colleagues on Council for adequate funding for Portland Parks & Recreation, and against cuts that reduce services and staffing."
To learn more about the PP&R Requested Budget, you can access a PDF document online – www.portlandoregon.gov/cbo/article/622229