Junction City Community Center
How it works
In this paper I will identify some public issues in my community that will benefit from having a community center in the city. I will go over the functions of my programs and how they will affect the immediate population. I will also go over potential cost of a program and development of this magnitude and again outline what it will bring to the community. Various social groups and businesses in the area will be attracted to the positive attention this program will bring to the city.
My plan is to revive the Grant Avenue commercial district and make it an area the city could be proud of once again. A community center will revive and stimulate the economy in the city as well as attract new residents to the area.
Identifying the Problem
In Junction City, Kansas there has been a steady decline in business along the Grant Avenue section of the city. The district used to have car dealerships, restaurants, shops, bars, and commercial business spaces. Now there are vacancies everywhere, the strip looks like a ghost town. Aside from the housing development that was built in 2008, nothing new has been built there in over twenty years. Bramlage Park looks dilapidated and covered in graffiti, there is obvious evidence of drug use in the park and police presence there is minimal.
The Unified School District #475 in junction City is performing poorly. Half of the elementary schools are performing well below the state average I proficiency. Westwood Elementary, Franklin Elementary, Washington Elementary, and Junction City Middle School all have proficiency ratings ranging from 40 percent down to a low of 21 percent.
The poverty rate in Junction City is above the State of Kansas’ poverty rate of 16.7 percent at 19 percent. Most of the people living below the poverty line are children and young adults. There is a growing number of single parent families in the area, most women in this situation are either never married or divorced. The population in Junction City grew by 0.8 percent in the last year. There is a lack of employment due to a lack of employers and businesses to accommodate the growing population.
In specific areas of the city, drug use is more common and accessible to children. Marijuana and methamphetamines are becoming a problem in public places and are being exposed more often to school aged children. Healthy living is a concern, that should be promoted city wide, to prevent poverty and unhealthy conditions.
Drugs have a negative effect with everyone that comes to abuse them. Potential causes for drug use in the city are unemployment, disabilities, addiction, recreation, and a lack of support from friends and family. Drug use is most common in low-income areas and seen as a way to cope with their stressors and financial burdens. Because of the many medical benefits marijuana offers, people see it as harmless. The fact of the matter is that marijuana, can still be a gateway drug for young teens.
The poverty rate in Junction City slowly grows as more people migrate to the city. Thirty percent of the people living below the poverty line are White, followed by Blacks and Hispanics. It makes sense, since white people are the majority of the population. They are also mostly single parent homes headed by a female head of household. A lot of the poverty is due to the lack of jobs in the area, lack of education and skills. This is proof that all the issues in our community are interdependent.
The school system is performing below average in primary education. The cause comes from varying things such as lack of mentors, lack of positive role models, dated educational resources, poor money management, language barriers, costs associated with school, common core mathematics, and the list goes on. The school district simply doesn’t have the resources to give the students more individual attention.
New businesses in the area are almost nonexistent, aside from large franchise restaurants. Many small businesses are going under within a year because there is no economic stimulation. Small businesses can only hire so many employees before they build a clientele. Much of the city is beginning to concentrate around the big chain stores, leaving the rest to wither. There are approximately five thousand people living on Grant Avenue alone, but hardly any businesses there. There six abandoned strip malls and over thirty commercial lots available on the three mile stretch of road, not to mention, it’s right outside of the gate to the military base, making it prime real estate. The problem lies with no one wanting to invest in an area that looks run down. Business men don’t want to restore, they want to buy cheap and new.
How It Works
My idea of the Junction City Community Center will help relieve may of the burdens brought by the aforementioned issues in the community. There will be four different focuses for the organization: Education, Finance, Recreation / Outreach, and Health. In the education department we will provide tutors and facilitate a comfortable working environment. The educational program will also work with educational institutions in scheduling study sessions for state tests and SAT’s. There will be a large computer lab and study hall available for public use. The program will also offer low cost child care for children up to kindergarten age that will introduce basic familiarity exercises with shapes and letters to prepare them for pre-school and kindergarten.
The finance department will offer financial classes and limited financial services. Some of the classes include personal finance management and credit report reviewing. The program will offer consumer credit counseling services, such as, debt management, budget counseling, savings, retirement planning and a free tax filing center. This is where the public could also get information on applying for supplemental subsistence programs that may be available to them. The focus here will be to help the low-income population, but anyone can use these services. Educating and assisting the community on their finances, will help increase their financial readiness. Along with financial readiness, this department will also assist with career and employment opportunities and advice. It will hold workshops in resume writing, face to face interviewing techniques, networking, entrepreneurship, and assist in making informed decisions related to seeking employment.
Recreation and Outreach Department will be the fun department. This will attract the youth to be a part of the community. This department will offer outdoor recreation, arts and crafts, sports, swimming pool, trips, transportation, volunteers, community outreach, and military outreach. This department will be the life blood of the organization. By involving everyone in the community with the community center, they will have a vested stake in its success and the community’s success. The goal is to spread the word about helping each other succeed by implementing a team-based state of mind. The best wat to stimulate our economy is by investing in each other and networking. The community Center will be the best place to do it, focusing on the community’s needs by taking a hands-on approach to solving issues in the community. By participating in the outreach program businesses can advertise freely through sponsorship or through volunteering their time.
The Health Department will focus on a drug free community and better living. Working together with Live Well Geary County and local farmers. We will provide free lunches on the weekend to the community. We will promote healthy living through exercise and education on the negative effects of drugs and alcohol. The program will focus on helping the elderly and people without medical insurance or dental insurance to receive free basic services, like school aged physicals, basic checkups, and free flu shots. My proposal will include a formal request to the state to imbed a Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) office in the community center.
These four core programs will help reduce the poverty rate through employment and financial counseling at no cost. It will help boost our proficiency rate in local schools by focusing on the individual learning needs of the children and adults alike. It will help reduce the use of illicit drugs by promoting better, healthier living to the youth and intervening through the use of the crime stoppers program of Junction City. These programs are the basis for a new beginning for the community, these programs will instill a sense of pride and will encourage the city to invest not only into the program, but also the proposed area of construction for the Junction City Community Center.
Investing in this project is investing in the future of this city and the success of it. This project will cost about 15 million dollars to construct. The city can acquire the commercial space for a reasonable price. I suggest using applying for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for the construction costs as well as private investor funding. A normal operating budget will cost eight to twelve thousand dollars a month, this will include staff, maintenance, equipment, utilities, and supplies. With a solid operation budget, we can easily forecast costs and revenues. When including the various already committed sponsors of the program, there will be no cost to the city other than construction costs. I do propose a small rise of property tax in the commercial area prior to the influx of businesses that will realize from this project. There will be some residual costs that will affect the city budget. I request that the three mile stretch of road be resurfaced to attract more traffic and business to the area.
The program speaks for itself. Many organizations like the Salvation Army, KANSASWORKS, American Red Cross, Live Well Geary County, Big Brother and Big Sister, Junction City Caring Place, Fort Riley Community Outreach Program, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Volunteer Kansas, and many more have expressed interest in the involvement of such a program. A community center focused on helping each other will hep bring the community closer. Many of the organizations I mentioned will have a new space to help provide medical services, financial services, educational services, child care services, and food services to the community. What this program will provide is a central area of operations for the stakeholders in the community to help the people that make up the community, while stimulating the economy, reviving a dilapidated area of the city, and attracting new business to the area, creating jobs and developing infrastructure.
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