City Announces Public-Private Partnership as ‘Way Forward’ for Westside Community Center | New

Westside Community Center will become a public-private partnership and its budget will more than triple, the city of Colorado Springs announced June 30.

The center’s new operating model, in Old Town Colorado, includes city staffing and operational funding. It also offers partnership and revenue-generating opportunities with external entities, including nonprofits, according to a city statement. The first phase of implementation is expected to begin in September.

The estimated total annual budget for the center will be approximately $372,800, compared to $100,000 per year under its previous operating model.

The announcement represents a “way forward”, according to the city, after the process of finding an operator for Westside stalled earlier this year. In March, the city announced that after reviewing proposals received for an operator of the Westside Community Center, it had canceled its RFP solicitation and would not award an award to an operator.

The Center for Strategic Ministry, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, had served as the center’s external operator for the past 12 years, but withdrew its proposal during recent contract negotiations. CSM operated the center until May 31.

Also in May, the city launched community design workshops to help plan the center’s future. Mayor John Suthers said the public-private partnership model was chosen after community recommendations.

“This new operating model will provide a balanced set of programs, services and businesses that will benefit the entire community,” Suthers said. “We believe this is the best and most feasible solution for the long-term success of the community center.”

Staff will include a city-funded center director, a full-time program coordinator, and hourly staff for administrative and site support. Programs and services will be expanded through external partner entities, and a formal selection process for these entities will take place this year.

The partners will begin operating on the site in early 2023.

A working committee formed by the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Advisory Council will help inform Westside’s programs and services. It was a key request during the community engagement process, the city’s announcement said.

Jill E. Washington