Community centers MOU remains unfinished

December 20, 2013
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A new operating agreement between the City and community centers was supposed to be in place long ago, but now it seems likely the document will not be completed before the Menino administration exits.

The issue of an agreement between the City and community centers arose after two groups at the Hennigan Community Center (HCC) complained about rates in 2012—complaints that continue today. It was unclear at the time whether the City or community centers had the authority to raise rates. The City later said that the community centers do in fact have that authority.

The City had said a year ago that it anticipated having a rough draft of the document ready early this year. But repeated Gazette phone calls and emails over the past 10 months to the Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF), the City agency that oversees the community centers, have gone unanswered.

Most community centers are nonprofits that are separate from the City, but they use City’s facilities and staff. The new operating agreement is known as a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which is a document that formally describes a relationship.

The partnership is currently governed by a 1974 “Plan of Operations” document.

When the Gazette asked Kerry Costello, chair of the Jamaica Plain Community Centers (JPCC), which oversees HCC, if she is surprised that the MOU is not done, she replied, “No.” She said that the JPCC, and to her knowledge other councils, have not been contacted about the MOU.

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