Unique Partnership Benefits Manistee County's Youth
Manistee County youth can look forward to having a new youth center if the efforts of a team of local citizens and a broad community-based effort are successful.
A community partnership began to form through the foresight of members of Faith Covenant Church of Manistee. The church has a history and a reputation for youth programming which has been highly successful. Combine their close proximity to Manistee High School and the fact that they own a 12 acre parcel of land overlooking the football stadium, and you have the recipe for a creative idea.
When the church decided to make the land available for a youth center, their dream of a community coalition began to materialize. Leaders began to talk about the idea with a wide variety of community representatives and it gained momentum. Recent discussions with the leadership of Manistee Area Public Schools and the plans for a new track adjacent to the proposed youth center have led to a larger vision for both the development of the area and greater opportunities for engagement among the area's junior and senior high students and their families.
Last summer, a feasibility study was undertaken in which representatives of government, law enforcement, social service agencies, youth workers and educators were interviewed. Results indicated a strong positive feeling that a youth center was needed and desirable for all Manistee County youth, and that the wider community would be supportive as well. The feasibility study came at a time when a 2012 survey was being updated by the Manistee County Community Foundation's Youth Advisory Council. More than 1,000 students ages 13 - 18 were interviewed and results indicated some of the major concerns of young people across the county. Among their most frequent responses was the fact that there was no place to "hang out" with friends and nothing to do after school.
The proposed youth center will be 15,000 square feet in size, designed with options to expand in the future. It will contain a full-size basketball court suitable for numerous sports and games. The mezzanine level will contain rooms for study, internet use, board games, and will have pool and ping pong tables. Students will have the availability of tutoring help and mentoring by well-trained and caring adults. In addition, there will be a snack bar and catering kitchen on the main level.
A capital campaign steering committee comprised of area business and civic leaders has been recruited and will begin fundraising efforts in September. A community kickoff event is scheduled to take place on the site of the new facility on Friday, September 25th in the form of a tailgate party prior to that evenings home football game.
With the successful completion of the fundraising campaign slated for this fall, construction would begin sometime in 2016.
Our Township greatly benefits from Network Northwest's experience, depth of knowledge and understanding. Because they work with so many diverse communities in our ten-county region they understand the local land-use issues and are already working on solutions by the time we realize we need some help.Susan Odom, Chair, Suttons Bay Township Planning Commission