About the Community Center Task Force

15 February 2010 77 views No Comment

Englewood has long been in need of a community center but with scarce resources and land available for such a facility. The objective of the Community Center Task Force is to not only try to achieve a physical facility over the long term but to make an attempt to identify existing venues and spaces in the City that can serve the programming and service goals of a community center immediately without having to wait for the physical structure of a community center to come on line. The task Force is charged with making a report to the Mayor.

In late 2008  the Council issued a Request for Proposal (a “RFP)  to determine options for the development of the Liberty School for a residential housing project vs. a privately funded performing arts school, community programs and/or  other community uses. The RFP also was to examine uses for the Wright Arena, including alternative uses. At the time, I strongly opposed the study because the RFP was flawed. For example, the study was to examine alternative uses for the Liberty School and to assess its physical condition.  I argued at the time that any study for the Liberty school must fully address the community needsand the economic impact of alternative uses such a performing arts school for our school children and adults.   At the time, private individuals were considering  donations in the millions of dollars for the purchase of the School with the mission to keep this historical building in place to serve  our community.  Several council members (representing the majority of the council, but not all)  wanted to sell the property for  $6.5 million for residential housing, the amount the City paid for the property in 2003. One problem with the Council’s decision, the property was never worth $6.5 million then or now. The second problem, bergenPAC offered to match any bona fide offer from any other purchaser, dollar for dollar, but the then Council President denied to hold any meeting to discuss this opportunity.  The majority of the City Council then hired the consultant for the purposes of issuing a report to identify  a partial or full demolition of the Liberty School to make way for residential housing.  After a one year delay, the report was issued. The report concluded that residential housing was not economically feasible  and recommended to the Council that consideration should be given to the performing arts school or other community services.

I strongly opposed a residential house project on this site. The Committee will review findings of this report in connection with the mission and goals of the Committee.

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