Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Teen Center One Step Closer To Reality

Teen Center One Step Closer To Reality
By Ben Antonius | Daily Republic | February 19, 2008

FAIRFIELD - It isn't a functioning teen center yet, but a signed contract for one is still an unprecedented step.

The city inched closer to establishing a long-term home for the Police Activities League on Tuesday, when the Fairfield City Council unanimously approved a contract to lease the 9,300-square-foot space for the program.

'It is really nice to see this done,' said Councilman Frank Kardos, who with Councilman John Mraz has spent much of his first term on various teen center proposals. 'It is a great first step.'

Under the deal, the city will make the needed improvements to the site then turn it over to the Police Activities League, a nonprofit group staffed by police officers and other community members on a volunteer basis.

Several police and community service officers kicked off the first PAL program in the fall of 2007 by partnering with after-school programs at E. Ruth Sheldon, Anna Kyle, David Weir, H. Glenn Richardson, Cleo Gordon, Fairview and Bransford elementary schools.

Police officers are already involved in the program and the fire department has been mentioned as a source of volunteers as well.

However, Mayor Harry Price said he believes the community at large will be lining up to volunteer as well.

'My sense is people want to be involved,' he said. 'The burden won't just be on the police department . . . it won't be on the fire department.'

Without a permanent home, PAL has been coaching basketball and football teams at scattered sites around the city.

Those programs would largely move to the new site once it is up and running and other activities would be added, including boxing and academic tutoring.

The terms of the deal call for the city Redevelopment Agency to pay the lease on the site until the center is capable of taking over the payments.

Because redevelopment money is meant for long-term projects, the city essentially has a 15-year lease, broken up into three five-year terms for $625,000 each.

There was no shortage of superlatives for the project Tuesday. Mission Solano Executive Director Ron Marlette said the vote was 'a great decision,' Councilman Matt Garcia called it 'wonderful' and Mraz described the move as 'a turning point for Fairfield.'

'It's hard to put a dollar figure on this,' said Councilman Chuck Timm. 'It's an investment in our future.'

Reach Ben Antonius at 427-6977 or

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