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Butler Community College seeks to lease part of Wichita rec center

Butler Community College students soon may be taking classes in hotel and restaurant management at a park in Wichita.

The Wichita City Council on Tuesday will consider leasing a portion of Boston Park’s recreation center to the college’s hospitality management program.

The recreation center at 6655 E. Zimmerly, which opened in 1982, is used for recreational and community education programs for youth, adults and seniors from the neighborhood and surrounding area. A study by the Hugo Wall School at Wichita State University recommended it be used to provide more educational programming.

Butler’s hospitality management program offers students associate degrees and one-year certificates in restaurant and hotel management. The college plans to renovate the center’s kitchen into a commercial kitchen to do a culinary program as well, said Tiffani Price, lead instructor for Butler’s hospitality management program..

Butler has had the program since the 1980s, Price said, but the college doesn’t have the facilities to expand it.

“The program has been successful to an extent, but it has been very status quo,” she said. “The Food Network rage and everything is bringing it more forward. This is the time to build.”

Culinary classes now are being taught in a high school home economics kitchen, she said.

“I can’t get any more students than we have now without those facilities,” Price said.

Butler would lease 3,078 square feet of the building for a culinary kitchen and two classrooms. Equipment for the kitchen would come from the Wichita Ice Center. The equipment includes a commercial grade stove, stainless steel prep tables and a commercial dishwasher. The city has agreed to let the college use the equipment if the college moves it from the ice center, Price said.

Only students enrolled in Butler may take the courses at the Boston Park recreation center, but Price said her goal is to start non-credit cooking programs for the public as well.

If approved, Butler’s lease with the city would begin in January and run through December 2015. After the initial term, the lease would continue for two three-year periods unless either party wanted to end it.

Butler would pay $22,315.44 in rent for the initial term, or $1,859.62 per month.

The city will continue to provide some of its current programming at the center. And it expects to offer its summer recreation program there again next summer. The center’s gymnasium, game room and office still will be available, Kupper said.

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