Future of South St. Anthony Rec Center coming into focus


Crunch time is approaching for a decision on the future of South St. Anthony Recreation Center (SSAPRC). The center is one of five that St. Paul’s Division of Parks and Recreation (DPR) has proposed for partnering with other organizations.



At an Aug. 20 public meeting to discuss the center’s fate, DPR’s Kathy Korum said the division is anticipating an $11.6 million reduction in local government aid (LGA) from the state for 2010. That, together with at $5.7 million cut in 2008 and $5.0 million in 2009, means DPR will have lost 12 percent of its funding in three years.


Korum said that rec centers account for about $8 million of DPR’s budget and that they will need to cut $1.5 million to make up for LGA reductions.


Three centers will be closed altogether. Partnering is an alternative to closing whereby a compatible organization takes over operation of a center.


In a partnership, the city maintains ownership of the building and responsibility for outdoor maintenance: cutting grass, plowing parking lots and so forth. The partner pays utilities and maintains the building. In return, the partner can schedule its own programs and activities at the site. When the partner organization is not using the facilities, they are available for DPR programs and community use.


Korum said DPR has received three viable proposals from possible partners for SSAPRC. The Saint Paul Futbol Club does soccer skills development and training for youth. They would use the fields in the fall and spring, the gym during winter and the tennis courts in the fall.


The YMCA has a wide variety of programs for children, youth and adults. They would primarily use the building but might also run some camps that would use the fields during spring, summer or fall.


Urban Tennis teaches tennis to kids ages 5–18 at over 30 locations. Their long-term interest in SSAPRC is contingent on being able to add one tennis court to the existing two and build a bubble over the courts so they could be used year-round.


Korum said the city has a 10-year history with partnering. She said that usually building hours increase when a partner takes it over.


Korum said that all three partnering proposals would enable the District 12 Community Council to continue renting office space in the building. Existing group meetings, including those of the council and the Langford/ SSAPRC Booster Club, could also continue, she said.


Korum said the city has enough money to run SSAPRC through the end of the year. She said agreements with partners can be from one to five years.


At the Aug. 20 meeting, Korum asked for a show of hands to indicate which of the three proposals people favored. The majority of hands were raised for the soccer proposal.


In a later interview, Korum said her office would forward a recommendation to the St. Paul City Council and the mayor’s office that the city partner with the Saint Paul Futbol Club. She said that if the club ends up managing the rec center, it would still be possible for another group, such as the YMCA, to make some use of the facilities.


Amy Sparks, District 12 executive director, said she is pleased that the council will be able to continue leasing space in the rec center building.


“I’m glad the community has had a chance to offer input on the decision,” she said.


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