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Goleta Council Votes Against Community Center Management Change, For Now

City says the approved 2-year lease with nonprofit that currently operates the facility will minimize disruptions during upcoming renovations

Goleta City Council members approved a two-year lease agreement with the nonprofit that manages the Goleta Valley Community Center.
Goleta City Council members approved a two-year lease agreement with the nonprofit that manages the Goleta Valley Community Center.  (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

While the Goleta Valley Community Center will likely see physical changes in the near future, it will not experience management change for the next two years or more after the Goleta City Council approved on Tuesday an interim lease agreement with the nonprofit that currently operates it.

The two-year agreement drawn up by the city and the Goleta Valley Community Center, the nonprofit that runs the community center, comes as the city is evaluating the scope of the extensive repairs and renovations needed at the property.

The city owns the community center, which serves 80,000 to 100,000 people each year and has been leased to the GVCC since before Goleta’s incorporation.

The 89-year-old building at 5679 Hollister Ave., which was founded as Goleta Union School, is home to senior programs as well as nonprofit and for-profit groups, which lease rooms and host events there.

The GVCC currently leases the community center on a month-to-month basis after its previous lease expired.

Due to the building’s age, numerous health and safety issues have arisen, which have increasingly demanded City Hall’s attention.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, City Manager Michelle Greene told the council that the city is studying the repairs and renovations that are needed, and developing a capital improvement plan.

Repairs and renovations are in the works for the Goleta Valley Community Center building on Hollister Avenue. Click to view larger
Repairs and renovations are in the works for the Goleta Valley Community Center building on Hollister Avenue.  (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk file photo)

In addition to façade work and structural upgrades and repairs, the building requires parking and accessibility improvements and structural improvements for earthquake vulnerabilities.

The city realized that the coming changes and the development of an active parks and recreation program marked a good time to review the community center’s management needs, Greene said.

In an April public workshop, members of the council expressed a desire for new management, and Greene said the city plans to send out a request for proposals for managing the center when it knows the full extent of the needed renovations.

The request for proposals will be the opportunity for outside organizations, along with the GVCC, to make their cases for why they should manage the community center in the future. 

But sticking with the GVCC through all the capital improvement work, Greene said, limits disruption to the community center’s activities and programming.

The ultimate goal of reevaluating management options, according to city staff, “would be to realign the operation and programming available at the Community Center with Council and community expectations.”

At the end of the two-year lease, City Attorney Tim Giles told the council, the city would look at the GVCC’s business plans, expenses, and other pertinent information, and determine how the city wants to proceed with the center’s management.

The draft interim lease agreement presented to the council, at a nominal rent of $1 per year, lays out acceptable uses for the property — recreational, literary, scientific and educational opportunities for the public — as well as what activities and community center uses require city approval.

Though the GVCC is expected to pay all the costs and expenses of operating the community center, the city, which has been its landlord since 2013, will be in charge of its maintenance, repair and capital improvements, Giles said.

The GVCC is also expected to maintain financial documents and submit monthly activity reports to the city.

Developing the agreement required extensive time and effort, said Ryan Harrington, the secretary of the GVCC’s board.

“It was a long process in that GVCC has been there for 40 years operating the facility, and there’s a lot of institutional knowledge on how to operate the facility for the community,” he told Noozhawk.

“The city taking over ownership of the building is a major change for everyone,” he said. “And so we really had to get on the same page with the city and align our board with the city to create this interim agreement so that we can keep operating it for the 7,000 people who use it every month.”

GVCC board president Patricia Fabing rold Noozhawk that the GVCC was looking forward to participating in the request for proposals process.

As part of its vote on the lease agreement, the council also authorized this year’s annual disbursement of $25,000 for senior programming at the community center.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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