Below are examples of typical community centers. An analysis follows each center's description as a guide in evaluating similar facilities for the purpose of FEMA disaster assistance eligibility. Each of the notional community centers detailed below is based on an actual facility.
- Windsor Community Center
- Westover RECenter
- Faith Community Center
- Parklawn Community Center
- Riverdale Community Center
- Somerset Community Center
- Hopewell Community Center
Windsor Community Center
Windsor Community College is a large facility providing a suburban community with a wide range of activities. To the right of the large, open foyer is a large theater with stage; to the left, a group of general-purpose rooms. Upstairs are an artist's workshop and gallery. Approximately 50% of the interior space is occupied by the theater, 25% by the gallery, and 25% by meeting rooms. The center has no indoor or outdoor athletic facilities or pool.
Summer activities listed in the center's quarterly program guide "Winds O'er Windsor" include performances of several plays and movies; storytelling; concerts; fine arts competition in dance, music, theater, and visual arts; a "Windsor Day" festival with an 8k fun run, rides and amusements, crafts exhibits, chorale performances, and model airplane show; blood drive; indoor garage sale; Russian festival; antique show; crafts bazaar; day trips to gardens and museums; overnight trips to cities in the U.S. and Great Britain; tennis camp (at a nearby park); and a day camp. Summer classes are offered in calligraphy, ballet, computer skills, dance, fencing, various arts, bridge, country/western line dancing, tap dance, dog training, finance, fitness, home projects, driving for seniors, volunteer certification, and starting your own business.
Despite a substantial number of community activities, Windsor Community Center is not an eligible community center, primarily because it is established and primarily used for performing and fine arts, which are specifically excluded from eligibility. Primary use is evidenced by space (approximately 75% of the facility space is occupied by a theater and art gallery) and activities, many of which emphasize various forms of dance, visual arts, and similar activities.
Westover RECenter is the largest of 8 similar community facilities located throughout the metropolitan area. Although the facility is an acknowledged recreation center, it also sponsors a number of activities found in eligible community centers and is representative of a number of private nonprofit facilities.
The center is available for rental Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening to companies, church groups, clubs, and civic organizations. It is offered as a location for league parties, office parties, lock-ins, retreats, corporate meetings, seminars, conferences, holiday celebrations, and receptions. Meeting rooms are available for $25/hour.
Indoors, the center has rooms set aside for seniors bridge and other card games, along with workshops for photography, pottery, and ceramics, and art. It also has a pre-school, game/TV area, kitchen, and snack bar.
Arts and crafts activities include many for children ("Dinosaur Craftasaurus," cartooning, discovery art, drawing, kids crafts, jewelry making, plastic model building, pottery, theater arts, ballet, tap dancing), teens and adults (babysitting, 35 mm photography, darkroom techniques, portrait photography, beginning and intermediate pottery, mosaic art, drawing, painting, animation, picture framing, quilting, clowning, ballroom dancing I and II, line dancing, belly dancing I and II, and guitar).
Outside, the center has acres of athletic fields for baseball, lacrosse, and soccer, and courts for tennis and basketball. It operates a kids "Fun Camp" (i.e., day care) which emphasizes athletic activities, but includes crafts as well as day trips to various locations. Lessons are offered in racquetball, soccer, basketball, and tennis. Leagues are open for basketball, racquetball, indoor rollerblade hockey, soccer, T-ball, and softball.
However, the center is primarily oriented to athletics, as exemplified by a large indoor pool and locker room, a half dozen squash/racquetball courts, a weight/exercise room, and a 9,200-sq. ft. gymnasium/basketball court. It also has a sauna and a dance room.
While Westover RECenter offers a number of activities generally considered eligible community center functions, it is, first and foremost, a recreation center. In contrast to the definition of an eligible community center, it is neither established nor primarily used as a " . . . gathering place for a variety of social, educational enrichment, and community service activities," even though it does offer some of these. The vast majority of activities are athletic and recreational, which as stated in the definition "Facilities established or primarily used for . . . athletic (or) recreational . . . activities . . . are not eligible community centers."
It is not necessary to calculate the percentage of time or space devoted to community activities versus athletic and recreational activities, because Westover is overwhelmingly athletic and recreational. This is abundantly evident in the listings for Westover RECenter contained in the in-house periodical "Westover Once-over" which are almost entirely of an athletic nature. For these reasons, a private, nonprofit facility similar to Westover would not be an eligible community center.
Faith Community Center
Faith Community Center is operated by a national religious charity. It is open to the public, charges no fees, and does not require participants to belong to any particular religious faith nor proselytize during activities. No worship services or other religious activities are held at the center at any time. Classes and workshops are offered in arts and crafts, needlework, English as a second language, humanities, and consumer education. It provides health screening, blood pressure monitoring, and support groups for seniors, along with a daily lunch. Information and referral services for housing, health, leisure and social services are offered. Center staff makes home visits and telephone calls to homebound persons. It also sponsors trips to museums and parks, choir participation, holiday parties, gardening, theater, games and intergenerational programs. It has an active volunteer recruitment and development program.
Faith Community Center is an eligible community center, since it meets all the requirements of the definition. Although associated with a specific religion, it accepts members without regard to faith and is not used for religious activities.
Parklawn Community Center
Parklawn Community Center is one of 5 similar centers operated by the Blackstone Conservancy, a nonprofit community association located in Blackstone, a planned community. Every resident of Blackstone is automatically a member of the Conservancy, which provides a variety of community services and facilitates the participation of Blackstone residents in community activities and government. The Conservancy also operates to preserve the community environment and natural surroundings, and keep up property values through various restrictions and covenants on exterior appearances of homes and lawns.
Parklawn Community Center is available to all Blackstone residents. Residents may schedule courses, meetings, and neighborhood cluster parties at this center or rent it for private, social, or professional gatherings. Rental fees are $15 per hour on weekdays and $30 per hour (4-hour minimum) on weekends. The center is often used for events to which the entire community is invited.
The building has a large front porch and a rear deck overlooking a duck pond. Inside are two large stone fireplaces, one at each end of the building. There are two rooms on the main floor, approximately 600 and 800 square feet respectively, in addition to a 700-square-foot loft and a large hallway opposite the sliding doors leading to the deck. A warming kitchen, closets, restrooms, and tables and chairs occupy the remaining space.
On the grounds of the facility are a large outdoor pool, toddler pool, and 4 tennis courts.
Recent activities offered by the Blackstone Conservancy include "Music and Me" (a children's summer camp program), art camp, CPR classes, sports first aid, finishing and modeling, patchwork and appliqué baskets, fine hand quilting, hatha yoga, self defense and tae kwon do, and a farmers market on Saturday mornings. However, none of these activities is scheduled for the Parklawn Community Center; instead they will be held at the other 4 centers and a local parking lot.
Parklawn Community Center is not an eligible community center for a number of reasons. First, it s open to Blackstone residents, not the general public. Second, although the pool and tennis courts are outdoors, they are not only part of the facility, but the part most used. The center is primarily a recreational facility and for this reason alone is not eligible. The few activities offered by the Blackstone Community Conservancy cannot be credited to Parklawn Community Center because none are held there.
Riverdale Community Center
Indoors, Riverdale Community Center consists of a gymnasium/basketball court, a recreation room with billiards and table tennis equipment, and several small rooms for meetings. One of these is used for seniors activities, including lectures, card games, and socials.
Outdoors, the center has a playground with swings, slides, and similar equipment.
The center is most heavily used in the summer months when it sponsors a recreation program for children in grades 1-6. Participants enjoy a variety of activities, including fun and fitness, indoor and outdoor games, team sports, nature, crafts, storytelling, field trips, sports festivals, talent shows, and supervised play sessions. Some activities are also offered for young adults in grades 6-12.
Center activities decrease in the fall, although the seniors' room continues operations at about the same level with classes in advanced Spanish, nutrition, chair exercises, and line dancing.
Riverdale Community Center is primarily a recreation center. The gymnasium and game room occupy over 75% of the indoor space and the outdoor area is a playground. Although the senior activities are appropriate for a community center, the space and time scheduled for them are insignificant. Therefore, this is not an eligible community center.
Somerset Community Center
Somerset Community Center consists of a number of meeting rooms, a lending library, social services room, health services room, dining room, activity area with games and wide-screen TV, a darkroom, pianos for practice, ceramics lab, woodshop, computer, sewing machines, exercise room, and a large foyer. Outside are a fitness trail, garden plots, an outdoor basketball court and softball field, a gazebo, and picnic area.
A nominal membership fee is charged, however, in lieu of payment, members may work as volunteers at the center or borrow hours from the volunteer hours bank. The center is partially supported through weekly bingo, thrift and gift shop sales, and other fundraising activities.
Classes are offered in piano, bridge, arts and crafts, and gourmet and microwave cooking. The center sponsors numerous seniors' activities, which include trips, luncheons, and recreational and educational activities. A lunch program is offered for seniors and their spouses. Some exercise classes are also offered.
Health screenings and immunizations are regularly offered. Door-to-door transportation is provided to those who need it.
By virtue of the wide range of community activities, Somerset Community Center is an eligible community center. Although it does offer athletic and recreational activities, these are minimal in the time and space allocated to them; thence it is not a recreational center. The minimal fee (which can be earned through volunteer work) essentially make it open to the public.
Hopewell Community Center
Hopewell Community Center is operated by a national organization which, in all its activities, affirms the tenets of a major religious denomination, but does not proselytize. Although the religious principles are an implicit part in the organization's charter, the center is not used for religious purposes. Any person, regardless of race, religious beliefs, etc., may join; however, membership is required in order to use the facility. Annual dues range from $200 for youths and seniors to over $500 for full family privileges. The center occasionally runs membership drives which allow new members to join without paying the normal $25 to $250 initiation fee. Nonmembers are allowed to participate in individual programs by paying a $25 fee, however their access is limited to program participation.
Inside the facility are an Olympic pool, weight room, exercise room, and multipurpose room. A recent flier advertised the availability of swimming, aerobics, water exercise, karate, games, raffles, and day camp. A summer "Science & Technology" camp is offered to boys and girls ages 6 to 14. A Family Night involving swimming, a movie, and snacks is a typical offering.
Although there is an underlying religious affiliation, this itself is not a disqualifying factor, since religious services are not held at the facility, religion is not explicitly promoted, nor is adherence to any particular faith required.
What disqualifies the Hopewell Community Center is that it is primarily a recreation center, as evidenced by the pool and athletic facilities, and the lack of any substantial community programs. Additionally, it is not open to the public by virtue of its high initiation fee and annual dues. Accordingly, this is not an eligible community center.