Abbott Community Center Neighbors Brainstorm New Ideas

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TOPEKA (WIBW) -- Minus $110,000 to help Community First, Topeka's Poppy Abbott Community Center on SE 10th Avenue needs a new mission.

Neighbors met for a one-hour session to try to find that mission.

Hearing from Parks and Recreation administrators, neighbors joined County Commission Kevin Cook and Council member Sylvia Ortiz in the Center Wednesday night. They're talking over new options for keeping the center's doors open this fall.

Programs have been operated under the watchful eye of Community First, and you hear basketballs bouncing, arts groups singing, or even church choirs worshipping in the halls of the Center.

After budget cuts wiped out support for Community First, Sandra Lassiter told the audience any left over monies have been returned, and the financial slate is clean. That funding essentially ended on September 1st.

Cook says even with the cuts, the building is first and foremost, "a center for the community, and we intend on keeping it that way."

Randy Luebbe and John Knight represented Parks and Recreation of Shawnee County, encouraging the supporters of the center to come up with some similar ideas where the county can farm out Requests for Proposals from groups who would like to lease the building or offer a new set of programs for Topeka's youth in the Southeast Topeka area.

One speaker says if not, "we'll see another center shut down and boarded up, and there's the vandalism, too."

Commissioner Cook has vowed in this case, the center will not be shuttered.