Community bans together to save Yates Community Center

Published: Dec. 6, 2019 at 4:48 PM CST
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A crucial vote is nearing to decide the fate of a century-old building that’s become a hub of learning for those new to the country and to the city of Omaha.

Efforts to save the Yates Community Center are going into overdrive this weekend. At least 300 signs will be staked into the ground throughout the city in an effort to make residents aware of the Omaha Public School’s plan to sell the Yates Community Center.

“What we’d like to see is OPS grant us a few months to organize so Omaha can come together as a city,” said Adrian Petrescu with the Midtown Neighborhood Alliance.

OPS says they no longer need the building and it needs costly repairs.

The services here range from ESL to computer classes designed to equip those new to the country with the skills they need to succeed here in Omaha.

Those leading the campaign would like to see a new non-profit created to support keeping the services at the center.

"From Metropolitan Community College, Omaha Public Library, UNO, Bellevue University others who serve the same population they have the ability to actually come together,” said Petrescu.

OPS provided a statement that says, "Omaha Public Schools is committed to its programs offered at the Yates Community Center and those programs will continue. We envision a new chapter for the building that honors both its history in the community and educational mission."

Early education classes have already been moved to nearby Gifford Park Elementary. The plan is to move adult services to OPS’s nearby administrative center at the end of the school year.

“I feel strongly for Yates because I myself am an immigrant and I know it’s really important to build a community,” said Marie Helene Andre, Gifford Park Neighborhood Association.

The concern in the community will be dismantled if services are spread out.

“The people who come here don’t know anything about America, they have to learn everything and Yates offers that opportunity not only to learn the language but to learn about the culture, about everything,” said Andre.

Those leading the way on this campaign expect a big turnout of supporters at the next OPS board meeting on December 16th.

OPS does not have an exact date for the vote, but told 6 News they expect it to be in the near future.