Council Approves Permanent Community Center Commission
After a delay due to concerns presented by the Friends of Newtown Seniors (FONS), the Legislative Council approved the creation of the Newtown Community Center Commission at a July 21 meeting.
Following a July 7 public hearing, the council delayed a decision on the creation of the commission after John Boccuzzi, Sr, president of FONS, asked for changes related to the Newtown Senior Center. His proposed changes included having two members of the Community Center Commission appointed by the Commission on Aging rather than by the first selectman.
After two weeks to consider Boccuzzi’s input, Council Chair Paul Lundquist said that the council’s consensus was that “they’re all decent suggestions, but none rise to the level where we should revise the ordinance.”
The ordinance creating the commission passed unanimously.
Lundquist thanked the commission’s predecessor, the Community Center Committee, for “all its good work.”
“I think it’s important work you guys [the committee] did,” said Lundquist. “Your remaining centered on the idea of responsibility and stewardship for the center is something that will always be remembered. The reason we have a community center is sacred and important to remember going forward.”
The ordinance replaces the council’s Community Center Committee, which was charged with planning the construction and role of the community center, with the new commission, which moves into more of a “supervision and support” role, said Knapp.
The facility itself, as well as a multi-year allocation to underwrite operational expenses, resulted from a generous $15 million gift to the community from GE that came in the weeks following the 12/14 tragedy. Community Center Committee Chair Kinga Walsh stated that the change to a full commission was required if the town were to follow its own charter.
According to the ordinance draft, a seven-person Newtown Community Center Commission will oversee the center’s operations, as well as “advise and support the center’s director on areas related to membership, programming, rentals, capital improvement, fundraising, marketing, and strategic planning.” It will also oversee and approve annual budgets, fee changes, and “other financial operations.”
The town’s long-term goal for the community center is that it remain self-sustaining and not require town funds to operate. That will be primarily accomplished through membership fees.
The proposed commission will help formulate a game plan in the event that goal does not happen. Funds available to the Community Center Commission from donations, dues, fees, charges, and other revenue sources are placed in the community center special revenue fund, to be administered and disbursed by the town’s finance director.
Reporter Jim Taylor can be reached at email@example.com.