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Commission blames Debely for loss of teen center funding
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The Turlock Parks, Recreation and Community Commission went on record at their Wednesday meeting to disapprove of the Turlock City Council’s decision to use Redevelopment Agency funds to renovate Joe Debely Stadium.
“I still think it’s a poor use of funding,” said Commission Chair Brent Bohlender.
Instead, the commission would like to see RDA funds spent on other projects, including the construction of a Turlock Teen Center.
“We have certain things that we as a commission wanted to see done, and a teen center was one of them,” Bohlender said. “At no time were we even contacted and asked ‘what would you like to see this funding used for?’”  
The Parks and Recreation Commission has been researching the possibility of a teen drop-in center for the past year. A subcommittee was formed to visit teen centers around the state of California. What they found was that teen centers range from small community clubhouses, where teens meet for city-sponsored programs, to large teen-only gymnasiums with rock climbing walls and other activities.
Juliene Flanders, recreation superintendent, said that staff was asked to look into possibilities for creating a teen center. Teen center updates were included in recent Parks, Recreation and Community Commission agendas as a reminder of the commission’s commitment to the project. Flanders said that a gymnasium or teen center in some form has been a topic of discussion for a few years now for the Parks and Recreation Commission.
Flanders said that the possibility of a teen center was complicated when budgets were made for the current year and staff was cut.
“Even if there was a facility available, we have no funding to staff a teen center,” Flanders said.
The Commission and staff members had hoped that when RDA funding was distributed there would be money set aside for a teen center. Ultimately, however, the City Council (acting as the Redevelopment Agency) granted $2.8 million for an all-weather synthetic track and field at Turlock High School’s Joe Debely Stadium, among other projects.
The Parks, Recreation and Community Commission discussed on Wednesday the possibility of several small satellite teen centers rather than one large facility.
On Monday the Marty Yerby Building, located in Columbia Park that used to house the Police Athletics League program, will open as a community center. The Parks and Recreation Department will move some of their current teen-centered programs to the building. However, the building is a community facility and not a teen drop-in center as the Parks Commission had hoped for.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.