Non-profit might be formed to pursue community center |

Non-profit might be formed to pursue community center

by Jeff Munson

After voters soundly rejected a bond measure in November, renewed interest in an Indian Hills community center has resurfaced.

But this time, supporters of a 10,500 square-foot community complex say they won’t seek funding by asking voters for a bond. Instead, they hope to create a non-profit organization that could channel grant money toward the project.

“The people here really want a community center. They want to give something to the kids,” said Art Baer, who approached trustees of the Indian Hills General Improvement District on Tuesday to ask for support of the effort, and see if leaders are still interested in locating the center at James Lee Park.

Board members said they would support the effort and agreed that forming a non-profit organization may be the only way of getting a community center built.

District Manager Jim Bentley said he’s happy about the revived interest.

“Folks around here have been anxious to get a community center built for a long time,” said Bentley. “So the board gave a unanimous consensus that as long as there is no cash-cost to the district, they would be willing to cooperate” on a lease agreement at James Lee Park.

Plans for a community center have been 10 years in the making, but stalled after voters in November rejected a bond measure by a 451-343 margin. Prior to the election, the board had approved moving forward with building a community center based on predictions that voters would affirm the bond.

Hopes for the center, however, began to dim when three board members raised questions over whether the district should use public money to build a community center. Two trustees were recalled and one resigned after center backers accused the trio of working against the best interest of the district.

Baer said forming a non-profit organization and contracting with a grant writer should help in their efforts to get a community center built.

“There’s a lot of grants out there available to nonprofits who want to build centers for kids to keep them off the streets,” Baer said. “I still think the community would be receptive to a center, but because they voted it down, we have to do it this way.”