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Teens invited to share ideas on youth center

In 1922, the Idaho Maryland Mine Company built Grass Valley’s first community center smack dab in the middle of Memorial Park. The building housed social functions, such as dances and concerts.

The cottage-sized building was renovated in the 1950s, with several rooms added, and turned into a historical museum in 1987. Since 2002, however, the clubhouse generally has been empty.

That could soon change, with the clubhouse once again being used for its original purpose. A group led by activist Beth Moore Haines is leading the effort to give teenagers something to do that won’t involve drinking and drugs.



Haines’ idea of an entertainment and education center for youth is beginning to take shape, and the city is willing to let the group use the clubhouse.

“The potential of fewer kids saying, ‘There’s nothing to do in this town,’ is exciting to me,” said Sandy Jacobson, the city’s recreation and facilities manager.




Along with Jacobson, Haines has found support from high school students, other city officials and civic leaders who are willing to work to make the center a reality.

“I don’t want to sit and plan for two years,” Haines said. “I want to start something.”

Today, the group is hosting a pizza party at Miner Moe’s Pizza on Freeman Lane, at which youths in the community can share their ideas for what a youth center should have, be it a graffiti wall, arts, sports, cooking classes, or a big-screen television.

“I’ve always been a youth advocate – I would love to have (the clubhouse) as a community center,” said Grass Valley City Councilwoman Linda Stevens, one of Haines’ supporters. “As long as I am on the council, I will push for this to happen.”

This is the last year of Stevens’ term as a councilwoman. She is planning a run for the Nevada County Board of Supervisors in the fall.

Jacobson is currently looking to find a full-time occupant for the clubhouse, which is being used part-time for a summer day camp.

“This building has potential,” Jacobson said. “I think the (youth center) is an excellent idea.”

The youth center might offer services such as cooking or painting workshops and field trips to landmarks and concerts. There might be pool tables and video games. But it will be up to the teenagers, the center’s clients, to decide what works and what doesn’t.

The objective is to offer an atmosphere that is clean and sober – but not boring, Haines said.

A deal would also have to be worked out for the building. Jacobson said the group will have three options: A facility use agreement with the city, a very affordable lease, or a memorandum of understanding. The first option is a contract stating who would share which expenses; the third option is a partnership between the city and the group, with a list of shared responsibilities for the operation of the center.

Jacobson said the deal could be in place as early as September.

Next, the idea would have to be taken to the City Council, which would have to approve it in concept before more work could be done.

“There isn’t one person on the council who won’t approve it,” Stevens said.

The center could be in business as early as January, Jacobson said.

But before any of that business, there is the matter of today’s pizza party, where area youth will tell Haines and the rest of her group what they want. That in turn will determine how much money, resources and staffing are needed for the project.

“I believe we can make this happen as a community,” Jacobson said. “The stars are lining up.”

___

Know and go

What: A free pizza party for teenagers willing to share their visions for a youth center in Nevada County.

Where: Miner Moe’s Pizza, 716 Freeman Lane.

When: Today, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Information: Call Beth Moore Haines at 274-0360.


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