Rubonia Community Center idle, officials refocusing programs

skennedy@bradenton.comSeptember 27, 2012 

MANATEE -- The Rubonia Community Center has no programs running right now and is offering minimal services due to budget problems, officials said Wednesday.

"We're putting together a plan of comprehensive service to be beneficial to the entire community, we're in the process now," said Patrick Carnegie, president and chief executive officer for United Community Centers, Inc., which operates the center north of Palmetto.

Asked when the center might reopen with full services and staff, he replied Wednesday he was not expecting "a quick fix," but added he hoped many different types of programs would eventually be part of its offerings.

He confirmed that 12-15 children who had attended the center's after-school program had been moved to other centers.

"With the economy and a reduction in funding sources, we must refocus the service delivery," said Carnegie. "The population has changed, we need more senior services, support services for the community and families, versus just the focus on youth."

"The population is older now in that community, so that's more of the direction (we're going)," he added.

Only 15 children requested spots in an after-school program for the school year, all of whom are now enrolled

elsewhere, Manatee County Director of Neighborhood Services Cheri Coryea wrote in a report to the Manatee County Commission.

A review of the facility site at 1309 72nd St. E. is underway after two young men recently told commissioners they would like more to do there, Coryea noted in her report.

Carnegie and his board plan to establish an "open facility program" for the rest of the semester, Coryea said.

"This would allow children to come to the center after school for homework assistance and/or to participate in recreation freely/openly," she wrote in a report to county commissioners. "No part-day or full-day operation for youth can be provided at this time."

Coryea said she hoped senior services could be offered during morning hours on weekdays.

"It is felt that this type of service would see a lot of use," she wrote. "Programs that address diabetes control, exercise, weight control and nutrition were mentioned."

The center is operated by the nonprofit United Community Centers, Inc., which also operates Bradenton's 13th Avenue Dream Center. It costs about $30,000 to run a summer program, and about $70,000 more to operate the center over the remainder of the year, The Herald has previously reported.

The county funds a portion of the center's budget, with the remainder from sources like private donors, fundraisers and United Way.

Coryea said she thought a possible reopening date might be in mid-October.

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