Strategist wants to close 8 community centers, 4 libraries - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Financial strategist recommends closing 8 community centers, 4 libraries

(WMC-TV) - A financial strategist is recommending the closure of eight community centers and four libraries to help solve Memphis' financial crisis.

"I mean, it just makes me sick," said South Memphis resident Stanley Mitchell. "It's the library. I mean, the kids that go to school, they have to have someplace to study."

Mitchell was floored to hear Crenshaw Library could close. It is the least utilized library in Memphis.

The PFM Group is urging the city to close or outsource Cherokee, Cossitt, Levi and Crenshaw libraries in South Memphis because attendance has taken a dive. The financial firm says staff cuts limit hours and may have contributed to the attendance decline.

Eight community centers in North and South Memphis could also be on the chopping block. Those include Gaston, Charles Powell, Mitchell, Katie Sexton, Douglass, Dave Wells, Whitehaven, and Pine Hill.

Pine Hill Community Center has the lowest attendance in the city. Local resident Courtney Traylor's nieces and nephews go there every day after school.

"They help them with their homework. It keeps them active, from actually being in the streets and being destructive instead of constructive," said Traylor.

The changes would save the city $3.7 million dollars over five years.

"We simply can't operate as we've operated in the past. That's one of the reasons we've got the challenges we have right now," said Memphis City Chief Administrative Officer George Little.

City leaders hired a consultant to map out a strategy to solve the city's financial problems after the state comptroller warned the city has too much debt.

"Cortez came to the New World. He burned the boats on the beach. Well, we're at the point where the boats have burned and we have no place to go but forward," said Little.

The city already outsources four community centers.

"Maybe they should offer some types of grants to individuals who could come up with some programs to keep them open," said Memphis resident Cassandra VanPelt.

According to the city, if Memphis does not make changes, someone at the state level will. The city council will review the plan and make a decision.

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