"Y'know, I don't think this town really likes kids. You can tell because they don't have things for kids to do."
That's what 6-year-old Rose Miller told her mother Kathy two years ago on a downtown Annapolis stroll.
Now Kathy Miller, chairwoman of the Alliance for a Drug-Free Annapolis, wants to prove her daughter wrong by rallying the city to build a state-of-the-art teen center.
About 20 high school students and civic activists came to the Eastport Firehall Thursday night for a brainstorming session on when and where to build a "positive place" that teens "can call their own."
The group decided what's needed most is a fun place where high school-age students can hear the Baltimore/Washington area's best bands. They envisioned that after it grows into a "hub" of activity, then support services can be added, such astutoring, counseling and job training.
The center would serve teens too old for the Annapolis City Teen Club that, for the past 18 months, has run weekly dances for sixth, seventh and eighth-graders.
The ad hoc steering committee also decided some entertainment is needed as soon as possible.
"They need something to do, that's the first step. Give them something to do, and people will come no matter where you put it," said high school student Suzanne Hollander, who became interested in the issue while protesting the City Council's proposed downtown curfew.
The group selected out three vacant buildings:the old Phipps Bowling Alley on Chinquapin Round Road, the West Street Pepsi Plant and the Capital newspaper building on West Street. Theowners of those buildings will be contacted before the next meeting of the committee in June.
Miller thought it would be a good idea to sponsor a kind of citywide barn-raising, "with the entire community, especially the kids, doing the work to fix the building up like we did for the Annapolis City Playground."
The playground, in Eastport, was rehabilitated in one day by a massive community effort in 1988.
"These are just pie-in-the-sky dreams right now," Miller said. "But we will build a teen center in Annapolis. It's a given, because the alternative is kids don't have anything to do -- and we've seen anincrease in problem behavior because of that."
Along with admonitions from her daughter, Miller said she also was prompted by "about 10 calls per week from kids and parents complaining that there is nothing to do." The calls started coming in February, when Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins proposed placing a midnight curfew on minors.
The mayor retracted the plan last March when it became apparent it wouldn't pass the council.
Details -- like where the money will come from and who will operate the club -- have been left for later.
County Office of Drug and Alcohol Programs coordinator J. Huntley Cross believesthe teen center will have to be a privately financed and self-sustaining business. He offered to arrange a tour of the Crispus Attucks center at York, Pa.
"It's the most positive place I've ever been, and they actually shun federal money. You don't have to reinvent the wheel," Cross said.
Flo Jolly, an aide to U.S. Representative Tom McMillen, D-4th District, said the congressman's office would look intofinding federal tax credits for businesses that would donate money or real estate.