TV show opts against using Queen Anne Community Center
BizKid$, a national TV program geared toward financial literacy, has decided against producing its program in the gym of the Queen Anne Community Center.
Seattle Times staff reporter
One man's court is another man's stage — or so Mayor Mike McGinn saw it in his 2011 budget proposal.
As a small part of his plan to quell the daunting $67 million budget shortfall, McGinn wanted to rent out the Queen Anne Community Center's gym to BizKid$, a national television series geared toward financial literacy. The community center is one of five facing severe hour and program reductions next year.
But after a community uproar over losing the gym, BizKid$ executive producers decided Friday to end their partnership with the city parks department.
Mayor Mike McGinn said he didn't know yet whether the community center gym would still close — that will be decided after the November election, when the city will likely have to cut more from its budget because of statewide ballot measures. The City Council will make the ultimate decision, likely before Thanksgiving.
Ellen Monrad, the chairwoman of the Queen Anne Community Council, is hoping it will stay open.
"It draws neighbors, families and teenagers together," Monrad said. "It's the heart of our community."
Without it, residents likely would have to travel to other neighborhoods such as Magnolia, Capitol Hill or Montlake, she said.
The gym is used by all ages for basketball, pickle-ball and other activities.
Jamie Hammond, co-executive producer for BizKid$, said the company decided against the partnership because it "didn't want to be embroiled in political hassle." After she read a Facebook page dedicated to "saving the Queen Anne gym," and received negative e-mails, Hammond said, the arrangement no longer seemed like a good fit.
"Yes, the city needs revenue," a post on the Facebook page said. "But we also need to maximize the recreational facilities that we have — a neighborhood gym is a terrible thing to waste."
Hammond estimated the company would have paid the city nearly $10,000 a month to rent the gym. BizKid$ also would have brought financial literacy camps and contests to the community.
The TV series is produced in Seattle, and its cast and crew are also local. Hammond said it employs about 30 young adults, ages 15-20, each season. The show is sponsored by a coalition of credit unions from all over the country, and aims to teach kids how to budget, manage and invest their money.
BizKid$ will now seek a commercial property to produce its shows. Its equipment has been in storage since July 1 because it couldn't afford to continue using its previous facility.
Monrad, who lives across the street from the community center, said Queen Anne residents will keep fighting for their gym.
"We plan to continue meeting with the City Council to ensure this facility stays open," she said.
Other community centers facing cuts include Alki, Ballard, Laurelhurst and Green Lake.
Seattle Times staff reporter Emily Heffter contributed to this report.
Carly Flandro: 206-464-2108 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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