Manatee commissioners look at restarting programs at Rubonia Community Center

MANATEE -- The Manatee County Commission on Thursday discussed how it might help jump-start new programs at the Rubonia Community Center.

County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said she was "disappointed" at the way the center is being operated.

The center, which sits in Rubonia, north of Palmetto, has no programs running right now due to budget problems.

The building is owned by the Manatee County School Board but is operated by a nonprofit organization, United Community Centers Inc., said Ed Hunzeker, county administrator.

There are several efforts to address the matter underway right now, including those of Patrick Carnegie, president of United Community Centers, said Commissioner Larry Bustle.

Bustle has been trying to schedule a meeting involving community members interested in the center's operation, he said but so far, no date has been set.

County staff members are also working on ideas that could re-energize the center, said Commission Chairman John Chappie.

Last week, Carnegie said he was trying to formulate a comprehensive plan to reopen programs at the center, but he did not expect a quick fix.

In the meantime, 12-15 children who expressed an interest in attending after-school programs there had been transferred to other centers.

Commissioners discussed the possibility of an ownership change of the center's property, but concluded such an idea should be considered among a whole range of possible solutions that should be evaluated together.