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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : opinions July 10, 2014

8/15/2013 3:22:00 PM
Editorial: Cottonwood Teen Center- How much will it cost and who will pay for it?

There are all kinds of great ideas out there, until it comes time to pay for them.

That is the issue confronting the Cottonwood City Council as momentum builds for the establishment of a Teen Center in Cottonwood.

And the word of warning to the council is to be careful of what you ask for. You just may end up having to pay for it.

See, while teen centers sound all warm and fuzzy, they do not always turn out to be the success stories that adults want them to be.

A good case in point was the Teens-a-Chillin' Youth Center in Camp Verde. The Town of Camp Verde originally helped set up the center with the understanding that its operations would be overseen by a non-profit organization. In the end, that didn't happen and the town government was left with the choice of staffing the operation or pulling the plug. Not so surprisingly, Camp Verde no longer has a teen center.

Prescott is now going through same process as Cottonwood. Teen center advocates on the other side of the mountain are currently working on the 501(c)3 process for the teen center, creating a board of directors, finding a location and initial funding sources, which they hope will include the City of Prescott.

Prescott previously had such a center called the Teen Zone. It was located in the city's old Armory building. It was closed when the recession forced the city to lay off 10 employees, including several parks and recreation workers. At the time, Prescott's former Parks and Recreation Director Debbie Horton told the Daily Courier, "The cost to the city (for Teen Zone) was $50,000 a year. With two to six kids a day, it was not a financially sustaining program."

Sedona's Teen Center continues to offer services through the Flagstaff-based YMCA after a similar arrangement with the Boys and Girls Club folded. The city owns the building and the land for the Teen Center and contracts with the YMCA to provide the services. In all, it costs the City of Sedona about $40,000 a year to have a teen center.

"The value for the dollar," said Mayor Rob Adams, "is with the recreation and learning opportunities provided to our youth. We've had varying degrees of success."

There are similar stories all around the country. The most recent Google news stories on teen centers in the United States show:

• The Element Teen Center in Coon Rapids will close its doors for good Aug. 22 unless a new source of funding is found.

• The Anderson Teen Center will remain closed until it is known whether the group running it will receive a grant from the city.

• Club Cannon Teen Center's closure in Peterborough was a real loss ...

• The North Pompano Park and Highland Park teen center projects would be completed by 2017, and cost $20 million.

So before the City of Cottonwood goes down this road, two key questions need to be answered:

• How much is it going to cost?

• Who is going to pay for it?

Let's not forget that Cottonwood already is chipping in $25,000 this year to the Boys and Girls Club. The city spends $17,000 in pool operation costs so Mingus Union High School can have a swim team. The city spends at least $300,000 a year for youth-related activities through its library and parks and recreation services.

Related Stories:
• Momentum builds for local teen center

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Article comment by: Slater Slater

Great idea if the negative peer pressure is
over shadowed by success.

Posted: Monday, August 26, 2013
Article comment by: Curi us

Questions still unanswered:

The stated 'mission' of the Verde Valley Youth Commission is to "create and sustain a Teen Center that includes youth programs that empower teens in Cottonwood and the Verde Valley to lead successful lives as individuals and community members."

First off, can anyone provide examples of youth programs that 'empower' teens to lead successful lives as individuals and community members? (The only programs I can find that have statistically-significant positive outcomes are the Arizona 4-H clubs.)

Assuming the VVYC creates a 'teen center' at a "six figure" cost to Cottonwood taxpayers, how will it be financially sustained?

Who staffs it, what are their qualifications, and how much do they expect to be paid?

The VVYC facebook page is nothing more than a logo, buzzwords, some photos of a 'free pizza party' comprised mostly of adults, and a list of fundraising events. What happens to the money raised at those events?

Why does the VVYC facebook page list vvyc.org--a web address they don't own--as a the only contact? Who are the people behind the name, and why do they not want to be publicly identified?

Posted: Monday, August 26, 2013
Article comment by: How About it

Whatever happened to schools having recreation centers set up in the cafeteria during summer break.

I remember playing Ping-Pong, Basketball, Football, Baseball and of course lots of board games were available.

There's no need for a designated 'Center' for kids to play at. A one time expense of maybe $5K to buy gear for the kids and cost of maintaining it would easily be enough to do it.

Posted: Monday, August 19, 2013
Article comment by: @ miss informed

If you have solid evidence that teen centers in Yavapai County have reduced teen crime, you really should post it. Or better yet, send a letter to the paper and the City Council.

Posted: Monday, August 19, 2013
Article comment by: miss informed

It seems that the powers that be have plenty of money to lock up delinquent teens and adults but no money to prevent these disasters which inevitably befall troubled youth and young adults.

Posted: Saturday, August 17, 2013
Article comment by: The Goatherder

It's fun to complain about kids and the trouble they get into but god forbid anybody'd ask us to chip in to help.

Posted: Saturday, August 17, 2013
Article comment by: Matthew Holmes

Doesn't the Library already have a teen area, and the rec center, and what about extra space at Mingus or another school? Come on parents, let's practice that horrible word, I know it's hard in this my child is special, follow your dreams, you can do anything you want, me-me-me era where the kiddos are used getting anything they want, but say it with me now: NO!

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: Ann Rant

Great. Dog Parks and now Teen Parks. How about a Married Couples over 40yrs Park?

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: The Dawn Of Ages

Since the dawn of ages, kids have complained about boredom and there is nothing in this town to do. Over indulgent parents who won't take the time to occupy thier kids will support the idea of someone else finding a solution to pacify their kids. It is all folly!

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: Parents Avoiding Resonsibility!

Parents who don't have time or the ambition to involve their kids in proper activity and want to pass the buck to everyone else to do the job for them. That is what this is about.

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: Emotional Mistake?

We have a multi million dollar rec center. Schools spend millions on facilities and after school activities. There is a short window before teens get drivers licenses and would not be caught dead in a teen center. The current teen advocates will not be teens by the time the money is spent to create the teen center. Other cities have gotten caught up in this emotion and spent huge dollars only to find the centers were either a magnet for trouble or so over supervised they were boring. The rec center has a room for kids with video games that is rarely used. There is no doubt this is on a fast track to spend. My only question is, how much will be spent and how long will it last.

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: Boys and Girls club not an option

Boys and Girls club only provides services to children up to age 12, and even then it's services are not free. You have to pay for your child to go there.

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: Ima Reeder

The Boys and Girls Club should be enough. Give extra support to that if you think you want more activites, sports, etc. I agree that we should not be splitting resources, especially in this time of economic uncertainty. Get real!

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: What's Up!

Where did you come up with the idea that ANY money was allocated for this project? The City is only out the use of the space, which is basically unused at this time. Can you really think of a better use of empty City buildings than providing for our youth?
The real shame is that the City had committed so much effort to providing youth programs when they already financially support a group who should be helping these teens. Quit spreading half truths, and focus on building a successful program for everyone.

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2013
Article comment by: Teen Center Not Needed

In addition to the outrageous cost, just how many teens would truly attend regularly? Most teens either get a job, go home and study, can go the Boys and Girls club if they want, play sports, be in drama, go to the rec center, etc. They have many choices. Adding another play area for teens is an unwise funding decision.

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