Since the International District/Chinatown Community Center opened in 2005, it has enjoyed high usage rates and a large amount of community support. It’s been an issue the ID could unite around. When the original plans didn’t include a gym, the community responded by raising $2 million to ensure adequate facilities. Unfortunately, it’s in danger — not from a determined malicious attack, but by a management oversight.
The new geogroup management system, which the City of Seattle is implementing in the name of efficiency, is hurting the center. The basis of the system is that if the city is split into regions and diverts resources from smaller community centers in a region to larger ones, it’ll be able to service the same amount or more people for the same amount or less resources, because the people who would normally go to the smaller centers will go to the larger ones. This means that the IDCCC hours are being cut to a planned 25 hours of programming a week, to the benefit of the larger community centers, such as Yesler or Jefferson.
This plan might sound great on paper, but, like many plans that sound great on paper, it’s execution is beyond poor. The plan drafters failed to take into account the individuals that the center serves. Our community’s seniors are one of the largest groups of users, and they are not mobile and very often do not speak English. The youth also use the community center, especially after school. By the time they can make it to Yesler on a school day, the afternoon is gone. Not to mention the younger kids whose parents wouldn’t allow them to travel far alone. Members of our community are not going to the larger centers as anticipated — they’re just not being served at all, and this is unacceptable.
Efficient use of resources is important, yes, but those resources are meant to help people, and if the changes that are currently proposed go through, many people will no longer be helped. (end)
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