Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and officials from Dunbar Inc. held a press conference to announce the City’s plan to explore options for the potential acquisition of the iconic Dunbar Community Center in order to save the community center from foreclosure.
Mayor Sarno stated, “As I have said numerous times, any mayor in urban America knows there’s three things needed to continue to knock down the vicious cycle of poverty and public safety issues: 1 – family, 1A – education, and 1B – jobs. This community center has played a pivotal role in serving youths, teens, young adults and seniors for over a century and is an important part of this neighborhood and the City as a whole. I have asked my staff to explore possibilities for acquiring the building in order to keep the recreational and after school programs going. We cannot allow Dunbar to be closed and padlocked.”
Dunbar Community Center has been an oasis for inner-city youth for 100 years, dating back to the early 1900’s. A new gym was added in 2000. The Community Center received a notice of default in February 2016 from the assignee holding its debts. Dunbar Community Center, Inc. was recently notified by the Colorado company that holds the debt, that if the full payment or other satisfactory arrangement for payment of the remaining balance owed from the original loan was not made by March 27, 2016, the debtholder would “exercise such rights and remedies” deemed necessary to collect all amount due. The outstanding balance, with interest, is estimated at almost $1 million.
Mayor Sarno also stated, “There are ongoing programs being carried out in the building, and one concern I have is that foreclosure could force the building to close. I do not want the ongoing programs to be jeopardized or interrupted. The City will explore whether it can acquire the building and arrange for the continued use of the building in a manner is in a financially responsible manner that it is in the best interest to City.”
The YMCA of Greater Springfield took over day-to-day operations of the Dunbar in 2011 after financial problems became worse. The Mayor will ask the Finance Department, Parks, Facilities Management and Law Department to review the financial, structural, and legal issues in order to formulate a plan for the potential acquisition of the property by the City and utilization for continued use as a community center.
Mayor Sarno said, “Dunbar was the home court for NBA stars Travis Best and Vinny Del Negro, and we hope that future stars and all recreational players will have the benefit of being able to play basketball or benefit from the dance, theatre or other programs that Dunbar is known for many future generations.”