The Recreation Commission Wednesday voted to recommend that staff terminate the 12-year-old youth center, the Corner, because participation has almost disappeared.
The Corner primarily serves young people of middle school age. The center was equipped with comfortable furniture, computer workstations, games, and other amenities.
Recreation Director Amy Hamilton said that over the past year, weekday afternoon attendance at The Corner in Town Center averaged around six. On early dismissal days, the number rose to nine.
During its heyday, weekday afternoons drew 40 to 50 and the number rose to as high as 80 on Wednesdays, she reported. Sometimes students would drop their gear at the Corner and then head for stores and playgrounds, before returning. Enrollment began to decline a few years ago.
The youth center, which over the years has been financed by the town budget and the recreation revolving fund, was literally built from scratch, Hamilton said, which makes the recommendation “really disappointing for those of us who have been with it the whole time.”
The Corner is supervised by three part-time staff and uses two rooms in Town Center.
Commission members said the decision is especially timely. “We don’t know what the fall is going to be like,” said Chair Robin Steele. She added that space may be in demand for Kids Club. Julie Halloran agreed that uncertainties suggest “we don’t know what kids will need.” Commission veteran Rob Richter acknowledged that “programs ebb and flow.”
As a program offering, Hamilton as director, working with the town manager, has the authority to discontinue the Corner. But the practice has always been for the commission to endorse significant changes like this.