Officials consider teen center logistics



If city residents are interested in a safe atmosphere for their kids to access education, recreation, and health services, soon they may have just the place.

New Haven officials said they hope to turn the Army National Guard armory on Goffe Street, once slated to become a jail, into a teen center to serve city youth.

Julio Gonzalez ’99, Mayor John DeStefano’s executive assistant, said a teen center would serve an important purpose for the city.

“There’s a big unmet need for quality services that provide youth development as well as youth intervention,” Gonzalez said.

Dwight Hall co-coordinator Michelle Rosenthal ’05 said her impression was that the new center could impact Yale students and their relationships with the community as well as help New Haven residents.

“It sounds like a great resource for students in New Haven,” Rosenthal said. “It definitely sounds like the kind of meeting place that Dwight Hall students would use to facilitate deeper relationships with students they already work with, as well as a forum for meeting new students in New Haven.”

The New Haven Register reported on Feb. 11 that the city would appoint a committee to investigate the plan, but Gonzalez said that thinking about the center had progressed.

“It’s beyond the concept process,” Gonzalez said.

City officials hope to model the Goffe Street center after The Door, a popular New York City teen landmark that has offered services to young people since the 1970s. Interested officials have already visited The Door twice, and Gonzalez said the city was interested in doing something similar to what The Door was doing — providing a centralized, safe space that can link young people to jobs and public safety.

“In terms of a physical clearing-house, it’s something that New Haven needs to replicate,” Gonzalez said.

The new teen center will appeal to a similar demographic as The Door’s — young men and women between the ages of 12 and 21.

The National Guard armory is located adjacent to the Community Correctional Center, a jail at 245 Whalley Ave., and has recently housed the Governor’s Foot Guard, two National Guard units and a museum. Although the state targeted the armory as a possible prison site in 2000, the plan fell through when a legislative committee headed by New Haven State Senator Martin Looney cut the funding for it early that year.

According to the Register, Army National Guard Maj. John Whitford said the Guard planned to vacate the Goffe Street armory soon, and the city, if it wanted the building, would have the first right to it. The National Guard could leave the armory within the next six months, Whitford said, adding that the city could acquire the building at little or no cost.

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