The St. Helens Community Center is now open and operating in a former church along Gable Road.
The new facility is part of the city’s efforts to expand municipal parks and recreational opportunities and to initiate other community events as well.
“We call the building at 2625 Gable Road the St. Helens Community Center,” said Shanna Duggan, Director of Parks and Recreation for St. Helens. “1810 Old Portland Road (location) is still referred to as the St. Helens Recreation Center.”
Duggan said the location of the new community center is a huge benefit to the community.
“With the new sidewalks and crosswalks on Gable Road, there is safe walking connectivity to our secondary and local neighborhoods, especially neighboring high density apartments,” she said. “This provides many community members with convenient access to the community center and our programs. “
The St. Helens Community Center also has offices for Parks and Recreation staff and other community partners to work on projects and other administrative tasks.
“The new building also gives us the opportunity to offer other programs such as theater, cooking lessons, etc. Duggan said. “With the proximity to St. Helens High School, we will be able to use the school grounds. The partnership with the St. Helens School District is a big part of how we are able to offer so many activities.
Duggan said the city’s vision by having the facility adjacent to the high school and the surrounding residential neighborhood is to have volunteer and employment opportunities for high school students and the community.
“We have added several programs for teens, including a Youth Leaders Club and Teen Nights, and we have programs under development to connect our teens to the community,” she said. “This will give the teens of St. Helens valuable experience and help them develop skills to make them competitive when applying for jobs and college.”
The range of public services that will be offered at the new community center will vary and depend on the current pandemic.
“We are still strategizing with our community partners as we slowly bring back in-person programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Duggan said. “Stay tuned as we continue to assess short-term options due to the continuing restrictions. Our vision is to create a community center where information and / or services are more easily accessible so that our community can connect and feel supported.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Department still uses the building at 1810 Old Portland Road for recreational activities as well as school buildings for some programs, according to Duggan, who added that there is a great need for public buildings for leisure activities.
The purchase price for the old church was $ 800,000. The city used some of its reserve money, along with general funds and corporate funds, to purchase the property.
Duggan said the city’s parks and recreation programs are used by a wide range of Columbia County citizens.
“We have many users all over Columbia County, and even some beyond the county. Our largest demographic group is the residents of St. Helens. In the last 60 days, we have had 550 registrations for the program, ”she said. “We want to provide a space so that everyone can find an activity that they enjoy doing. The vision is to continue to expand our program offerings.
The St. Helens Parks and Recreation Department employs contract workers who have specific skills to teach classes, such as painting nights, dance classes, art classes, and more.
“If you would like to teach a class, please contact us and we can discuss programming and activity options,” Duggan said.
According to Duggan, the St. Helens Parks and Rec programs were launched in 2018 with a focus on youth and families.
“We saw the greatest need there,” she said. “Since then, we’ve added new programs to create a place for all ages that connects many generations. We believe it is important for different age groups to have recreational opportunities together to help strengthen our community bonds. We have new people moving to St. Helens. One of the first things people say they look for when moving to a new location are parks and recreation offerings.
Duggan said the future of the city’s parks and recreation programs is bright.
“We are proud of where we are today,” she said. “We started in 2018 with a movie theater screen in a park, then were temporarily closed due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, and now we’re making a comeback. Our goal, as always, is to “Build Community Through Activity”. “
For more information, contact the St. Helens Parks and Recreation Department at 503-366-8208.