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Neighbors working to save Sellwood Community Center set to close this summer

A neighborhood association hopes to lease the building for a year, then buy it. The community center is set to close on Aug. 31.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Volunteers and the neighborhood association are working hard to save the Sellwood Community Center.

As part of the Portland Parks Department budget cuts, the City of Portland decided not to keep the community center open. It is set to close Aug. 31.

RELATED: 50 Portland parks and rec staffers to be laid off in painful budget cuts

For parents like July Currin, losing the community center would be devastating. Her sons are part of the after school program at the center.

“There are no other options, at the moment. I'm looking either cutting back my hours at work or they're home by themselves for an hour or two every day,” said Currin. “There's just no really other financially viable options for us as a family.”

Without the after school programs, she is at a loss for what to do. 

“It’s really a life-saver. The school bus picks them up from their elementary school and takes them right to the community center and drops them off,” Currin said.

When the city decided to close it, she started looking for other options. However, the after school program at her kids’ school has a long waiting list. 

“I did try to get my kids registered for the next year,” Currin said. “They're numbers 61 and 62 on the wait list and I'm not at the bottom.”

Her story is not unique. She said she knows of a lot of other parents in the same boat. About 160 kids use the community center every week during the summer, so the closure would impact a lot of families. 

“This is a very vibrant neighborhood and the community center, this is its 99th year, ready to celebrate its 100th, and the neighborhood is not willing to let it go,” said Gail Hoffnagle with the Sellwood Moreland Improvement League (SMILE) neighborhood association.

SMILE is working hard to reach a deal with the city. SMILE hopes to lease the building for a year, then buy it.

Hoffnagle said they are not ready to give up hope even though time is running out. 

“The pressure is on because we need this done by September 1st,” Hoffnagle explained. “There are a lot of people counting on us and there's a lot of pressure on us to be successful, and I think there's also pressure on the city to help us be successful.”

The city said it met with neighbors and encourages them to submit a proposal. 

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Portland Parks & Rec funding gap puts Sellwood Community Center on chopping block

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