Donor Steps in to Save & Rebuild Jewish Community Ctr…

GallowayCollensTOPsunsetREVISEDDonor Steps in to Save and blumz07Rebuild Jewish Community Center in Oak Park

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Aug. 24, 2015)

“The name of the building will be JPM.”

This sentence brought the crowd at the Jewish Community Center in Oak Park to claps and cheers as they listened eagerly to a major announcement made by leaders of the Jewish Federation Monday Night. After months of uncertainty about the future, not only will the essence of the closing Jewish Community Center be maintained, a private donor has stepped in to save what is possible, rebuild the main part of the facility, and operate it as it’s own organization

sidebar016growLarry Wolf, President of the Jewish Federation announced the news to the anxious audience.

“We looked at a number of different proposals from a number of different groups and a number of different individuals, and yes we went to private foundations seeking help and advice monetarily,” he said. “As a result of the survey that your group put together it gave us an even better idea of where we needed to be and where we wanted to be.

“As a result of the mayor brokering a deal, I am pleased today to tell you that we are very close to finalizing arrangements with a local benefactor who has agreed as follows:

“Assisting in hiring a general manager for the building, maintaining the pool and the pool area, accommodating its current operations being sensitive to the observant community living chazzano game adin the area, tearing down the remaining facility, and rebuilding a new facility here somewhere between 25 and 40,000 square feet, which will have a modest fitness area, hoping to house one or two Jewish agencies, program tenants such as Jewish community center, facilities for classrooms, an area like this for a communal gathering, and smaller individual office type rooms.

“The name of the building will be JPM And the many donor plaques that are in this building will remain here. Some have already indicated they would like to move their plaques to the Kahn building that’s their choice, not ours, and we will abide by the wishes of the donors as it relates to the plaques.”

The JCC was slated to close at the end of September. Dozens of residents have been going to meetings led by Aaron Tobin and Ronald Aronson. Save the Oak Park JCC raised over RustBeltAd01$10,000, which is now going to be held in savings with the Federation to be given away as scholarships for memberships when the new center opens.  Their “We are the JCC” t shirts will continue to be sold to raise money for membership scholarships.

Ronald Aronson opened the meeting by reflecting on the eight months’ worth of work leading up to the surprise resolution. “This is the 22nd meeting of Save the Oak Park JCC,” he said. “The steering committee has met approximately 27 times.” He noted there was also a scholarship committee formed, and a survey committee. “Many people have met over 100 times,” Aronson said.

In an interview after the meeting, Tobin said “We kept putting pressure on the Federation. People were terrified the building was going to close and just sit there shuttered and then there is no incentive for them to open it. I am absolutely convinced that the Save the Oak Park JCC saved the Oak Park JCC by putting pressure on the community, by raising awareness, and getting the news out there. Without all that pressure that deal would not have been done.”Judy_Palmer30years

Tobin said he does not know who the anonymous donor is, but “someone is doing something very important for the community, that is so important for everyone – for seniors in the buildings that surround the center, for young people, for people to have a place to spend time together as a community. It’s a load off everyone’s shoulders.”

There are many details and plans to be worked out, including the timeline for the project. There will be a period of time when the center is closed for the rebuilding, but Federation officials say they are trying to make plans that will keep the pool open for as much of the construction as possible. Not only is the pool used for recreation, but many seniors use it for low impact aerobics.

As far as governance, Federation CEO Scott Kaufman said the property will be owned by the Federation but JPM will be its own organization with an independent board. Because the deal seed34_marcia_danneris so new, and not finalized, Kaufman does not know to what extent the Federation will be involved. But they will continue to be there.

JPM is the current name of the JCC building. “JPM is for Jimmy Prentis Morris, the Prentis family is important in the community,” Tobin explained. “Jimmy is a young boy who died before his time and the family donated a lot of money and his father volunteered much of his time to make it a beautiful community center. He took it on and helped run the place in memory of his son.”

Donors who contributed when the JCC was open have the choice of having their plaques remain at JPM or having them moved to the JCC in West Bloomfield.

Mayor Marian McClellan was on hand to hear the good news.  She and City officials have been working with Jewish Federation leadership to help find possible solutions to avoid a closure.  “When we heard about losing this building, the very heart of Jewish life in this area, we were devastated and furious. Tonight’s news brings relief, joy and hope to everyone who cared about this beloved Reid_Sally_115communal center. Thanks to all who worked to make this possible, thanks to the modest donor who prefers to remain anonymous who is paying for all the renovations to the fifty-eight year old JPM building and making this hope a reality, thanks to the Save the JCC group who worked tirelessly to make a difference in their community.

Now the seniors, the Russian community, our Orthodox members, the pool users, those who meet in this building and love it so will soon have a modern energy efficient new building. The donor is overseeing the plans and will take the dreams of the community into account. In a year or so we will all be together again celebrating the start of the brand new JPM,” McClellan said.

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CFSEM-123-OaklandCounty115-digital-ad_v2Previous stories:

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2015/01/05/oak-park-may-lose-jewish-community-center-meeting-jan-12/

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2015/01/07/guest-view-save-the-jcc-in-oak-park/

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2015/01/13/community-crowds-together-to-save-oak-park-jewish-community-center/

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2015/02/09/healing-and-community-abound-at-jewish-community-center-health-fair/

http://oaklandcounty115.com/2015/03/06/jewish-federation-lets-oak-park-jcc-go-seeks-new-operators/

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