On Saturday, teens celebrated the grand opening of the Sierra Vista Teen Center. After a four-year hiatus, teens once again have a place to call their own.
A youth center had operated in Veterans’ Memorial Park for over 25 years, but in 2009 the economic downturn and a deteriorating building forced the City of Sierra Vista to close it. A brand-new $6.5 million facility had been planned in 2007, but after years of declining revenues new construction was still far off.
The City Council listened to the community, and in 2011 identified the need to reopen a temporary youth center in their strategic plan. After evaluating a variety of options, the best and most affordable solution was to lease a portion of a building owned by the Sierra Vista Unified School District, located behind the district administration building off of Fry Boulevard and Avenida Escuela, and adjacent to the eastern side of Veterans’ Park. This central and safe location is close to schools, the Cove, Veterans’ Park and public transportation, making it easy for teens to access.
After receiving feedback from the City’s Youth Commission and the seventh and eighth grade students at Joyce Clark Middle School, the space was redesigned and a number of new features were added. Space just to hang out and activities that weren’t available at home or at friends’ houses were at the top of the list. The name was changed from the “Youth Center” to the “Teen Center” when, after much discussion, the Youth Commission recommended the center be open to youth 13-17.
Through a donation by the Kiwanis Club of Sierra Vista, designers added an arcade to the Teen Center that includes two vintage pinball machines and two machines offering 60 different classic games with favorites such as PacMan, Galaga, Dig Dug and Frogger. The Friends of the Sierra Vista Public Library also received a $10,000 grant from Cox Charities to fund a DJ booth and recording studio. Look for soon-to-be-announced information on classes that will teach teens to record and mix music, and create playlists and music. In addition to these activities, there is space just to hang out with friends, watch movies, play games, eat a snack from the onsite vending machines and take advantage of the free Wifi.
The Teen Center will be open and staffed from 3 – 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 3 – 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Proof of age or a school ID will be required. School buses run Monday – Friday to the center from both Joyce Clark Middle School and Buena High School.
The Sierra Vista Teen Center is located at 3401 E. Fry Blvd, behind Apache Middle School. During operating hours, call 459.8744 to reach the staff. Contact Megan Sneary, Youth Services librarian, at Megan.Sneary@SierraVistaAZ.gov for more information. Be sure to follow the Teen Center on Facebook for any announcements and up-to-the-minute information!