ATWATER -- City officials want to turn a dilapidated former dairy building into a teen center that could feature an indoor skate park and rock-climbing wall.
The Atwater City Council unanimously approved Monday night a proposal to submit a $5 million grant application to the state to fund the first phase of the teen center. The center would be located in the former Creamery Building at the corner of Broadway and Castle Street.
Patrick Faretta, director of parks and community services for Atwater, said a city parks master plan indicated a need in the community for additional youth services. A number of public hearings then pinpointed what teens would like to see in such a facility.
The initial phase of the plans would be to buy and renovate the Creamery Building, keeping only the shell, and placing inside it the skate park, rock wall, a video game area, movie or live theater area and classrooms. City staff also hope to create an amphitheater and picnic area outside the building. Additional phases would involve other attractions on nearby land.
Scott McBride, Atwater's director of economic development, said the majority of the $5 million would be spent on creating the features inside the building.
"That's where the cost is -- in the amenities. If you don't have the features in the building that teens want to use, it's not a worthwhile project," he said.
The grant program that Atwater will submit its project to is made possible by a 2006 voter-approved proposition. The total grant program holds $368 million, but applications are limited to $5 million each. One perk to the program is the city won't be required to come up with any matching funds if the project is approved.
McBride noted that if Atwater's grant isn't approved, the city simply can't afford to build the teen center on its own.
Council members spoke favorably of the project's potential to clean up a blighted area of the community and provide additional services for Atwater teens.
Councilman Joe Rivero said, "I know there has been a lot of crime with the youth in the area. I think this is a great opportunity."
McBride said Atwater could know as early as June if the grant will be approved.
Reporter Amy Starnes can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.