‘Times are changing’

Future of historic Pittsfield Community Center up in the air

Most of a century ago, women would gather at the Pittsfield Community Center and write to the men in their lives who were serving overseas in World War II.

Over the years, it has hosted many meetings, from local Scouts to exercise, Weight Watchers, and scrapbooking.

Now, the members of the committee charged with keeping the facility going are overburdened, overdrawn, and burned out.

At a public meeting Tuesday night, 18 concerned citizens gathered at the community center and library to discuss its future.

“The members have either passed away or gotten too old,” President Mike Gustafson, who no longer lives in the township, said.

The only other active committee member, Treasurer Cindy Wolbert has been involved with the facility for over 40 years and she said she is tired of paying its bills out of her own pocket.

“Our bank account is pretty much depleted,” Wolbert said. “I have been paying the bills.”

The facility is available for rent for $75 — a bargain, according to those in attendance — but, other than a few families that have been renting it out once or twice a year for decades, there is little activity.

“I think it’s a same if we don’t keep it open for another year,” Bonnie Robbins said. “Does the community of Pittsfield use this?”

“It’s not many people from Pittsfield,” Wolbert said.

There are two two-bedroom apartments upstairs. There is no one in them currently, it has not been hard to keep them occupied, Wolbert said.

“The rent from the tenants upstairs is not paying the bills,” she said.

Some of those in attendance suggested that the market would bear the rent be raised from $250 per month for the larger and $200 for the smaller.

Money is the concern. Leadership is the problem.

The committee members want out.

“You guys have done your part,” Township Supervisor Bill Kibbey said. “You still need somebody to run it. I don’t know what you can do unless you have this big outflow of people willing to work on it.”

He said the township has been approached about taking over the facility but cannot. “Working with taxpayer dollars, you can’t do everything you want or think you should do.”

Wolbert said there have been peaks and valleys of interest over the years. “The people would come, but it would dwindle back down.”

Asked for a show of hands of how many people would be willing to participate in the operations for a year, seven people volunteered.

No one came forward to sign their names as responsibles for the property.

“We’re all here,” Al Crocker said. “We want the place to keep going but we don’t want to do anything.”

The gathering talked about selling or donating the property.

“It’s a shame that we have to look at it and think about it, but times are changing,” Sue Kibbey said.

Because it is a non-profit facility, there could be limitations on selling it.

The group broke up after about an hour after deciding to consult with an attorney about the options.

Gustafson said the group would publicize future meetings about the facility.