Coral Evans spent her formative years inside the Cogdill Recreation Center in the Brannen Homes public housing development.
The drop-in facility just east of Lone Tree Road was a big part of the daily routine for Evans and her brother.
In fact, she credits the city-run programs at Cogdill with helping them both become successful in life, and she has been fiercely protective of Cogdill since joining the Flagstaff City Council.
So when proposed city budget cuts the past few years put the rec center at risk of closing, Evans counterattacked. She proposed the city make deep cuts in the budget of the crown jewel of the city's recreation division, the Flagstaff Aquaplex.
This July, the city will hand over the keys to the Cogdill Recreation Center to the newly formed Boys and Girls Club of Flagstaff.
And Evans couldn't be happier.
"Instead of closing a recreation facility inside of the city of Flagstaff and shutting it down because we don't have enough money, we are partnering with the Boys and Girls Clubs to actually increase services in a community that desperately needs them," Evans said.
Elizabeth Anderson, the director of community enrichment services at the city of Flagstaff, said the partnership will be a boon for local children.
"We are very excited to have a Boys and Girls club in Flagstaff. Having previously been involved with the Club I have seen firsthand the positive impact it has on school-age youth in the communities they serve," Anderson said.
The initial five-year lease with the Boys and Girls Clubs, to use exclusively the 49-year-old building will save the city of Flagstaff an estimated $767,120, mostly by pushing the costs of ongoing maintenance, as well as staffing, to the nonprofit.
Historically, the city had budgeted $208,424 a year to fund operations at the rec center.
The terms of the $1 a month lease will have the city give the nonprofit $235,000 over the first three years for start-up costs in exchange for the nonprofit to fully staff the facility, offer various programs in five core areas as well as take over the maintenance of the facility.
A second facility, the Flagstaff Recreation Center in the Sunnyside neighborhood, is also funded and run by the city. Its operations will not change.
NEW PROGRAMS, CONSTANT RE-EVALUATION
Jim Stratton, the executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, says the organization is currently evaluating which programs to bring to Flagstaff.
He said the national organization has developed roughly 100 programs that could be offered locally, but staff is still evaluating what will be a good fit for the community.
"One of the things we don't want to do is duplicate something in the community that is already being done well," Stratton said.
He said even after the core programs have been launched this summer, his staff will be constantly re-evaluating those programs in an effort to make improvements.
"It will probably be a couple of years before we settle into where we fit into the community and find what's best for the children around here," Stratton said.
Afterschool programming will continue to be a core program, Stratton said, noting the nonprofit will continue to offer the summer day camps the city has been running for a number of years.
Technology will also be a big part of what the Boys and Girls Club will offer later this summer when they take over the center.
"A lot of children, particularly in this neighborhood, do not have access to the Internet and do not have computers at home," Stratton said.
ANNUAL DUES TO BE CHARGED
One new feature for Cogdill Recreation Center will be the implementation of an annual dues for members. In the past, the center was largely free to public.
"We find [those paying dues] take better care of the facility, better care of one another, they pay attention to the rules because they feel they have a vested interest," Stratton said.
He figures the cost will be close to $10 a year, but those who can't afford it will be offered a chance to earn the dues.
"We will figure out a way for them to earn that 10 bucks," he said. " Some of the modest fees that the city has already in place, like for the summer day camps, we may keep that in place."
An agreement with the city of Flagstaff largely exempts anyone living in Brannen Homes from paying fees.
STAFFING TO INCREASE
Six months before the nonprofit takes over the facility, Stratton wasn't prepared to discuss staffing for the facility.
"We aren't really sure what the city had ready in terms of a transition plan for its employees," Stratton said.
Current plans call for the elimination of one full-time staffer at Cogdill and the transfer of six or seven part-time positions to other city recreation centers.
Anderson said the affected employee could be transferred to another position or could go to work for the Boys and Girls Club.
Stratton couldn't comment, but he said the club wanted to fill positions with those familiar with the facility and the neighborhood.
Volunteers are also expected to play a large role at expanding the services offered at Cogdill.
"We have a number of Boys and Girls club alumni who are here at NAU on scholarship from various clubs in the Valley," Stratton said. "So we essentially have a part-time development staff [here] that already knows what needs to be done over there."
The nonprofit has recently started a private fund-raising goal of $500,000 to pay for new programs and make structural improvements to the aging facility.
Joe Ferguson can be reached at 556-2253 or email@example.com.