The possibility of a bike museum moving into a space currently occupied by the teen center has some concerned about the future of teen programs in Davis.
City leaders are advocating for the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame to be located in a city-owned building on Third and B Streets, where the teen center is currently located. Teen center staff are not thrilled about the prospect of losing their space, however.
Those from the teen center stress the importance of location to the teen program.
“The teen center would be hard to recreate at another place,” teen center director Caitlyn Hughes said. “Teens spend time downtown, and the multiple levels to separate quiet and noisy activity are ideal. The basement is especially good for loud activities.“
Several teens at the Apr. 21 city council meeting agreed that most teens do not utilize the center.
“I think that as a landmark the Hall would have to take priority to the teen center,” local student Mario Salvagno said. “A teen center is a great idea, but I’ve only been there once, and I don’t know a lot of teens who actually use it.“
City council members did address the need for teen programming planning.
“We do have to take care of teen programming before we reuse the space,” said Councilmember Stephen Souza. “But in these budgetary times we have to utilize facilities to our best advantage.“
Others believe that there needs to be a determination of what a successful teen center means to the Davis community. There is also concern over teen programming in general.
“My fear is that teen programming has become an afterthought,” said Councilmember Lamar Heystek. “We need to make sure that we’re setting the right course of teen programming, and treat teens like any other member of our community who have a say.“
A survey by the California Park and Recreation Society said that 80 percent of 800 Californians agreed that local Park and Recreation agencies should provide places and activities during non-school hours for teens and kids.
“I don’t think it’s okay to just displace the teen center simply because of a perception that it’s not valued by the community,” said Susan Sabatie, a member of the Davis Recreation and Park Commission. “The commission recommends that the council not displace the center until an alternative location is selected because the teen center could be lost for good if an alternative is not found now.“
According to a recent teen center staff report, funding for the center has been reduced from $135,000 in 1998 to $122,000 today. Sabatie says this comes even with the supply and personnel cost increases.
When the center first opened in June of 1991, it was open six days for 42 hours a week. The center is now open four days for 18 hours a week, Sabatie said. In Davis, almost 25 percent of teens in grades seven to nine attend the center, compared to the national average of 10 percent.
Citing the lack of funding and reduced number of staff members, Sabatie feels that this is the reason for the perception that the teen center is not well utilized and is a waste of resources.
“Like a field of dreams: if you build it they will come,” Sabatie said. “Davis deserves the honor of the museum, but we can’t neglect teen programming.”
The fate of the teen center and other decisions about teen programming in Davis were not yet decided at press time.
The Veterans Memorial Center on East 14th St. has been named as a possible alternative location. Davis Deputy City Manager Ken Hiatt said a replacement, multi-use site should be constructed within three to five years, hosting many other programs for the community as well.
ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached email@example.com.