Manatee County seeks to broker deal on Rubonia Community Center

skennedy@bradenton.comJanuary 7, 2013 

RUBONIA -- County officials Monday attempted to broker a peace between two groups vying to operate the Rubonia Community Center, which has been closed since August.

"I think your facility is going to be open soon, and be more accessible to everyone," said Cheri Coryea, the county's director of neighborhood services.

She told members of the Rubonia Community Association she planned to ask for $35,000 from the county commission to try to at least reopen the center for such things as "drop-in" programs after school for kids, and perhaps something for seniors, too.

Association President Charles Miller reiterated that the association would like to take over operation of the center.

Budget problems forced the center, at 1309 72nd St. E., to close Aug. 16. About 12-15 children who had attended its after-school program were transferred to other centers.

It has been managed more than 18 years by a nonprofit organization, the United Community Centers Inc., led

by Patrick Carnegie, in conjunction with the county.

Carnegie's organization also owns and operates the newly constructed Dream Center at Norma Lloyd Park in Bradenton.

Miller opposed Carnegie's continued leadership at the Rubonia center.

Association members are residents of Rubonia, and want to add both adult classes and efforts to mentor young people, Miller has said.

The "well-formed local group" has "the potential to manage some services at the Center, but lacks the financial resources to maintain the insurance and maintenance costs required for such a facility," a county report said.

It suggested Carnegie draw up a lease agreement with association members to provide volunteer services 7-9 p.m., two or three days a week. The report also recommended programs be added for adults, such as Meals on Wheels; health, nutrition and exercise classes; literacy classes, and activities on its ballfields six days a week.

Carnegie, president and chief executive officer of United Community Centers, cited budget difficulties and too few requests for after-school services after the center abruptly closed last summer, the Herald reported at the time. Carnegie did not attend the meeting Monday.

Part of the difficulty of planning new programs stems from recent demographic shifts in the area, the report said. "The average age of the residents in the area has shifted from a younger population to a larger group of persons 60 years and older," the report said.

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