Starting June 1, 2022, the Westside Community Center is operating on a revised schedule, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. This schedule is in place while the City works to identify viable long-term options for the center. It allows current critical food services to continue, including the food pantry, Meals on Wheels and senior meals. The schedule also allows for current programming occurring within the revised hours of operation to continue.
Remaining tenants have the option to offer their services within the revised operating schedule on a month-to-month basis. No new tenants will be considered during this transition time.
Why the revised schedule?
The Center for Strategic Ministry (CSM) operated the Westside Community Center in partnership with the City of Colorado Springs since 2010. This operational contract ended May 31, 2022. The end of the contract prompted the revised schedule, which is funded by the remaining balance from the City’s operational contract. The City is very thankful to the staff and leadership at CSM for their 12-year commitment to the center and for their continued support through this transition.
Starting in September of 2022, the Westside Community Center will begin operating as a public-private partnership. This new operational model integrates feedback from resident recommendations. It includes City staffing and operational funding while providing partnership and revenue-generating opportunities with external entities, including nonprofit organizations.
Staffing for the community center will include a city-funded center director as well as a fulltime program coordinator to develop and direct programs, partnerships and community engagement activities. In addition, hourly staff will be hired to provide site support. The City’s Therapeutic Recreation Program (TRP) will also move its staff and robust program offerings from the Sports Office in Memorial Park to the Westside Community Center.
Expanding programs and services through external partner entities is also part of the new model. A formal process for interested entities will be conducted this year and will be open to all, including organizations that have previously held programs at the community center as well as potential new partners. In early 2023, selected partners will begin operating at the site, further expanding offerings and generating revenue for the facility and its programs. At a minimum, the operating hours will be 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays and expand based on programs and services offered. Read more here.
A phased public participation process for Colorado Springs residents to help inform the future of the Westside Community Center began Monday, April 18 with an online survey. The process culminated with a community design workshop on May 21. Public input collected through this process will be shared with City leaders including the mayor who will use it to help inform next steps for the community center.
An online survey to understand shared community values was open April 18 - May 1. Survey Results
A series of focused conversations was held May 16-17 to explore themes expressed in the survey. There were four conversations, each comprised of 12 participants from the following stakeholder groups: Westside Community Center tenants and program providers; Organization of Westside Neighbors and other Old Colorado City organizations; Save the Westside Community Center; and a group of community members with comparable experience serving local facilities, community centers and running community programming. Input from these conversations informed the agenda and process for the community design workshop. This tactic aimed to provide a structure for clear dialogue and reflection and encouraged a diversity of perspectives. This was not market research. It was a listening session to gather stakeholder input to help set the focus for the workshop.
Community Design Workshop May 21
A full-day community design workshop was held on May 21 from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. Participation by community members was highly encouraged. This is the place where all voices came together to engage in finding a viable long-term solution to ensure the best use of the facility and support the community. At the workshop, the professional facilitator shared insights from the survey and focused conversations. Attendees then helped define a set of long-term options for the City Administration to consider. The workshop was held at the Westside Community Center.
Digital Debrief - June 2
To summarize the feedback received and provide an opportunity to understand and reflect on the recommendations resulting from the workshop before they are presented to the City for consideration, a digital debrief was held and open to all community members.
This opportunity was held Thursday, June 2.
View the Public Engagement Summary.
Watch the Digital Debrief:
Timeline of the Westside Community Center
- December 1994 – City enters an agreement with School District 11 for the West Center for Intergenerational Learning Center joint use at West Junior High
- May 2009 – School District 11 transfers Buena Vista Elementary School (the present-day Westside Community Center) to the City; the City transfers its Intergenerational Learning Center programs to this site, as well as City staff (deed restrictions are in place through Dec. 31, 2041)
- Fall 2009 – 2010 – City budget process presents significant cutbacks, including community center funding
- December 2009 – City issues a request for proposal (RFP) seeking operators for its four community centers
- February 2010 – RFP responses received by the City
- April 2010 – City awards contract to the Center for Strategic Ministry (CSM), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, to operate the Westside Community Center for three years; there are no other successful RFP responses, so the three remaining community centers continue to be operated by the City
- 2012 – Contract renews with CSM for another three-year term (2013-2015)
- 2015 – Contract renews with CSM for another three-year term (2016-2018)
- 2019 – Contract renews with CSM for another three-year term (2019-2021)
- November 2019 – CSM provides a notice of non-renewal
- August 2020 – City posts request for information (RFI) for the operation and management of Westside
- November 2020 – City issues RFP for operation and management of Westside
- July 2021 – City announces of unsuccessful negotiation and closes the RFP process
- October 2021 – City holds a community information session prior to launching a new RFP process; City issues new RFP, which includes a City commitment to fund needed capital improvements to the facility
- December 2021 – City announces CSM as the recommended operator for Westside following the RFP process; negotiations follow
- March 2022 – CSM withdraws proposal during contract negotiations; City cancels the RFP following CSM’s withdrawal, and the procurement evaluation resulting in no additional qualified proposers
- April 2022 – parks department determined a path forward; community engagement sessions held with a third-party facilitator
- April 18-May 21 – phased public participation process with a third-party facilitator for residents to help inform next steps for the center
- Present – mayor determining a path forward
What is the role of a community center?
A community center cultivates community-based services that offer quality social, cultural, educational, and recreational opportunities that promote a safe, vibrant, and healthy community.
Why an external operator for a City-owned community center?
The Center for Strategic Ministry (CSM), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, operated the Westside Community Center in partnership with the City’s Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services Department, from 2010 to May 31, 2022. The operational partnership began out of necessity when the parks department sought an external operator in response to budgetary constraints. For context, the parks department budget was reduced 81% from $19.7 million in 2008 to $3.6 million in 2010. In 2022, the parks department received $17.4 million from the general fund. Funding levels have not returned to pre-Recession levels, in part because of the success of partnerships started after the recession – like the operating model at Westside Community Center. This allows general fund dollars to be used on other priorities for residents, like funding public safety and infrastructure.
Out of necessity, and with the support of key partners, the parks department developed a strategy in 2009 to incorporate community collaborations into their services. This operation model works on the premise that community stakeholders can work hand-in-hand with government to achieve common goals and services. This award-winning model has enabled the parks department to continue to offer and expand services while operating on limited general fund dollars. The Westside community Center was recognized by the University of Colorado Colorado Springs as the 2012 Civic Innovator of the Year for its operational partnership with CSM. This annual award recognizes and honors local individuals or organizations that are doing valuable, interesting, innovative work in the community through private sector initiatives that help address problems that may otherwise be left solely to government.