Blackfoot Community Center has delinquent expenses and it wants your help staying open - East Idaho News
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Blackfoot Community Center has delinquent expenses and it wants your help staying open

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BLACKFOOT — The Blackfoot Community Center is asking for community support to keep its doors open.

While the nonprofit community center has provided recreational activities at low prices for 15 years, mostly thanks to federal grants, it’s been hit with unexpected costs that could force it to close. Executive Director Ashlee Howell wants the center to continue to serve the community.

“Sometimes you reach a point where you either give up or ask for help, and I think we’re at the point where we really need to ask for help and put it out to the community,” Howell says.

Howell said the community center “has been a passion project and a labor of love from the beginning.”

More than just an indoor recreation space, the community center offers affordable preschool as well as before and after school programs. Howell said that the state has notified them before that the cost of the center’s daycare is an outlier, at less than the market cost.

Beyond that, Howell said that the community center is a great space for birthday parties, vendor fairs and other events.

“We love what we do and I know that we hold a place in many people’s hearts,” Howell said. “Either they’ve had their kids in our programs or they themselves have been in our programs.”

While 2024 has proved difficult for the community center, they had a good year in 2023. Howell said they started last year with a surplus.

But in February, the center was notified its costs had gone up due to common area maintenance fees. While a portion of the $4,000 a month it pays in rent goes towards those fees, additional expenses were accrued due to snow and ice removal expenses, as well as parking lot and roof repairs.

The Blackfoot Community Center has received an additional bill of close to $10,000. In the past, Howell has been able to chip away at expenses like this, but she doesn’t recall it ever being this expensive.

Chris Langeland, the property manager for the Riverside Plaza where the community center is located, said the nonprofit was now more delinquent on expenses than it’s ever been. It had 30 days to pay off the maintenance fees before it entered delinquency.

When the property owners didn’t hear back from the community center, issuing a three day pay or vacate notice entered the conversation. The property owners haven’t done that yet, but Langeland said he and Howell have discussed options. She hasn’t presented the property owners with an official plan.

Langeland explained that if the center is issued a pay or vacate notice, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it has three days before it’s evicted.

“It means that we’re putting her on notice that if she does not pay within three days, we reserve the right to vacate her,” Langeland said.

The property owners don’t meet until May 21, so they’re not likely to take any official action before then. Langeland says they don’t want to see the community center close.

“They want to work with the tenants to be successful and figure this out over the long run,” Langeland said.

The community center has submitted around six grant applications to different local businesses, and members of the community can help them receive those if they email letters of support or leave them a Google review.

“Those kinds of letters of support are extremely important to show the impact that we make in this community and that it is a valuable asset,” Howell said.

People can also go to the community center for its events, like DJ Dance Nights every Friday from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Anyone who would like to sponsor an event or make a donation can contact the community center at (208) 785-8022.