NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WKBN) – On any given Wednesday, you can find seniors playing cards and working out at the community center in Newton Falls.
“We all talk and have fun and laugh and have a great time,” George Workman said.
The Newton Falls Community Center is a place where they come to exercise and socialize, but on Thursday, that’s all going to change.
Built in the 1940s by the United Service Organizations, it’s now a gathering place for more than a dozen groups and organizations.
If the walls of the building could talk, they’d have a lot of stories to tell.
Helen Falatic, 90, has many memories there.
“Well it’s like home, really,” she said. “You know, I was a junior in high school when this was finished.”
That’s why so many are upset that the city is shutting the building down.
“We’re not giving up. We’re going to see if there isn’t some way that the citizens themselves can make a difference in the community,” Arthur Dunn said.
Officials announced its closure last month, citing a shortfall in the budget with cuts coming from the state level, and voters deciding to reinstate a one percent income tax credit for those who work and pay taxes outside of Newton Falls.
“We’ve cut probably 20% of our overall staffing in the city. By 20%, this is not as if we’re just picking on one issue,” said city manager, Jack Haney.
Haney says the closure could be temporary, since the center is being assessed to see if it would be worth investing in several needed repairs. He says it costs around $50,000 to run, but only makes about $20,000 in revenue.
“I’d like to see this one fixed, I really would,” Workman said. “I mean, if they tear it down, that’s costly. If they build a new one, that’s costly.”
According to city officials, some of the building’s major repairs include removing black mold, electrical work, and fixing the bowing walls.