GREG LOWER

Chanute Recreation Commission members will take the issue of groups who use the upper floors of the recreation center before the city commission.

The board voted 3-2 Monday evening to take the matter to the city commission, and also approved changes in its rates for programming and activities.

Acting CRC Director Todd Newman told CRC members that keys to the building have been distributed for which the current staff cannot account. He said staff does not know how many keys are out or all of the people who have them.

The CRC board met Monday evening with Steve Galt of Grace Community Church, one of three entities that uses rooms upstairs in the rec center. Newman said he also asked representatives of the USD 413 Foundation and Restore, the other two groups who have previously used the rooms, to attend Monday’s CRC meeting.

The CRC board voted in July to give the three groups 60 days to vacate space they have occupied for up to three years. Officials learned the current CRC contract with the city does not allow CRC to provide space to a third party for more than three months without city approval.

That 2011 contract expires in February and CRC board members discussed whether to give Galt until that time.

Chanute city commissioners Eddie Rosenberger and Phil Chaney were also present for Monday’s CRC meeting.

The CRC wants to use some rooms on the upper floor for programming, but Newman said it would not need all six rooms. When the groups took the space, it was part of the Chanute Regional Development Authority’s business incubator program.

CRC board member Matt Godinez, who became CRDA director after the program started, said the incubator program and the fabrication lab did not take off the way officials had hoped and the CRDA was bleeding money. Equipment in the CRDA’s fabrication lab has since gone to Neosho County Community College.

Galt said he is thankful to have been able to use the upstairs space and he would like to continue to use it, but he believes another space will be available. He said he would be willing to share equipment with other groups that may want to use the room.

“If we’re kicking him out, we’re kicking him out to have an empty room,” Godinez said.

Although Grace Community has paid rent for the space, the other two groups have not. The USD 413 Foundation provides school supplies and other assistance to teachers and the public, including a low-cost formal rental so that all students may attend prom and other formal events. The Restore operation is inactive, but still has property in the space.

Rosenberger said he does not think Galt needs to vacate and that CRC should be able to rent out any empty space. He said it is unlikely the city commission will ask the CRC to pay the rent it has collected for three years.

The motion to take a request to the city commission for Galt to stay until the end of the contract in February passed, with board members Jon Burchett and Nancy Isaac opposed.

In other business, Newman said the rec center is charging for use of the center to five out of the 23 fitness programs offered. Board members approved a flat fee of $30 per month for the programs, and also a fee of $2 per day for participants in the pickle-ball activity from 10 am to noon weekdays.

The CRC approved a rental agreement and fee structure which will be posted on the center’s website and Facebook page. Newman said the main thing is to enforce the fees. He said the fee structure is modeled on the college, rather than the school district.

The fees will take effect Sept. 3.

The board approved going back to a scholarship policy to give discounts to students on food assistance or the Women, Infants and Children program. The vote Monday reverses a change that added children who had three members of their household involved.

Grant Coordinator Julie Aikins gave an update on three active programs. The OWLS program for Outdoor Wildlife Learning Sites is a five-year program that closes out at the end of this year, and has $1,400 left in the account for maintenance.

The Commit to Health grant program provided $35,000 to establish a community kitchen, one of the programs planned for the upstairs of the rec center. Aikins said the kitchen renovation is close to completion and faces a Dec. 29 deadline. The project also received an additional $10,000 earmarked for tables and chairs.

Aikins reported she is working with schools and businesses on the Healthy Pathways grant program, which will provide $100,400 in total benefits to the community. The program ends in July 2020 and the CRC approved a wellness policy as part of the program.

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