Private funds keep Clunie Community Center open

01/18/2012 12:00 AM

01/18/2012 10:14 AM

A new model is emerging for keeping city parks and community centers open as the budget ax continues to chop away at those assets.

Neighborhood groups and businesses are stepping in to do what City Hall can't. The latest example of that involvement is in east Sacramento, where neighbors and businesses raised money and formed an organization to keep the Clunie Community Center open.

Flanked by supporters of the center, Mayor Kevin Johnson said Tuesday morning that the movement was "an example of us saving something historic in our community." The 75-year-old Clunie Center serves 100,000 people annually.

Community activists raised $45,000 to keep the center open for another year – even as most other community centers have been closed because of budget cuts at City Hall. Neighbors are confident they'll eventually create a self-sustainable model for the center through a nonprofit group, running the facility at a lower cost than the city has.

But is that a model that can work in the city's more challenged neighborhoods, where pools and parks have faced several years of cuts?

Johnson said the work in east Sacramento is "a blueprint that challenges other areas of the city."

"The blueprint is you need volunteers and small businesses to step forward," the mayor said.

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