Teens Left In The Lurch As Center Deal Folds

Space Sought For Activities

August 11, 1991|By Daniel P. Clemens Jr. | Daniel P. Clemens Jr.,Staff writer

MOUNT AIRY — Unfortunately for a group trying to establish a community center in town, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

For more than a year, a group of local teen-agers, aided by adults, had beenworking to find a site where they could feature activities mostly for youths, but for residents of all ages as well.

The teens thought they had made a breakthrough in June, when theyfound space to rent in the Mount Airy Shopping Center off Route 27. The group had planned to finalize a two-year lease to rent 8,500 square feet in the shopping center, which is operated by Ronald Cohen Management Inc.

But then the roof fell in on the deal. The shopping center's management rescinded the offer last month, citing unexpectedly high costs of converting the space for use by the community.

So the teen group finds itself where it was last summer.

"We are actually back to square one," said Barbara Schifter, head of the group ofteens and adults.

The group will continue the search for a temporary location for the center, with hopes of establishing a permanent site in the future.

"What we're doing now is looking at vacant buildings around town," she said.

The group has come across some sitesthat are of interest, but a home for the community center won't be established any time soon, Schifter said.

"It looks like it would be a matter of months, rather than weeks," she said.

The teens are frustrated that the deal with the shopping center fell through, but they remain undeterred, Schifter said.

"It's not like we've given up, but we're at kind of a slow spot," she said.

The idea for a community center emerged about a year ago when a group of teens decided to generate their own activities in a town that, they say, offers little for youths. With direction from some adults, about 10 teens beganraising money to get the project started.

The teens were busy selling candy bars, stationery and Christmas cards to raise money to rent a space and get some activities started.

The group conducted twoteen dances -- one at the shopping center location in June and one at the fire company's activities center in April -- and met with surprising success.

At the April dance, 230 youths showed up, confirming group members' sentiments that there was enough support for the community center. The group initially expected about 100 participants.

But, for now, the group will have to keep working and waiting. The teens will continue their Wednesday meetings and activities at Watkins Park.

For more information, or to inquire about donating time, money or ideas, call 829-9521.

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