Home Madison Teen center, community center funding included in Fitchburg Capital Improvement Plan amendments

Teen center, community center funding included in Fitchburg Capital Improvement Plan amendments

The Hub would serve as a community center for the Leopold neighborhood. Artist's rendering contributed.

Fitchburg could be getting two new community centers — one specifically for teens and one for the broader community — under amendments to the City’s Capital Improvement Plan proposed by Alders Joe Maldonado and Julia Arata-Fratta. 

The Fitchburg Common Council will vote Tuesday on the 10-year plan to set priorities for construction projects, facility expansions and improvements, and other capital projects from 2021  through 2030. 

The plan, first submitted by Mayor Aaron Richardson in May, calls for just over $137 million in expenditures over the next 10 years. Council members have proposed 14 amendments, two of which would establish community centers in two of the growing city’s most challenged neighborhoods.

Maldonado’s proposed amendment would allocate $2 million in 2021 and $1 million in 2022 to purchase the vacant A1 Furniture store on Anton Drive in the Jamestown neighborhood and convert it into a teen center.

“There currently is no dedicated teen center in Dane County that I know of,” Maldonado said. “There’s many community centers that have some teen programming. There’s no place that is just for teens.”

Maldonado said the location is ideal for the needs of the community.

“That neighborhood does not have any community center at all. There’s a vacuum in that neighborhood for programming,” he said. “There’s a lot of youth, there are a lot of people of color. There are a lot of folks with limited transportation and this would be a space and a location that would both serve the immediate community and also serve teens in surrounding areas.”

The vacant A1 Furniture & Mattress store would become a teen center under Joe Maldonado’s proposal.

Arata-Fratta co-sponsored Maldonado’s amendment, and also proposed an amendment to allocate $2.7 million in 2021 and $5.1 million in 2022 to build The Hub, a major community center in the Leopold neighborhood that would be built in two phases.

The Hub, which is already in the planning stages, would include recreational and community facilities on land the City already owns in the Nine Springs Golf Course Community Park. Maldonado co-sponsored Arata-Fratta’s amendment.

Maldonado said both the teen center and The Hub would be City-owned buildings but operated by nonprofit organizations, but it’s not yet been decided which organizations those would be.

“The intention is for a youth-serving nonprofit to be the anchor tenant in that space,” he said. “They would pay a minimal amount of rent. The city staff would not run the run either space. It would be run by youth serving agencies who do that work. I’ve been in conversation with folks that work with youth. Everyone I’ve talked to has said it’s a good idea and it’s necessary.”

Maldonado said the proposed locations are not coincidental — Jamestown and Leopold are two of the three neighborhoods identified in the Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative, a multiyear effort to fund community development programs. The third neighborhood is the Dunn’s Marsh area, where the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County already operates a youth-focused community center.

The Capital Improvement Plan expenditures are not “set it stone,” Maldonado said, and the money for the projects will still have to be allocated and approved in subsequent capital budgets.

Still, the amendments to place the community centers in the CIP are an important next step, Maldonado said.

“The Capital Improvement Plan lays out our priorities” for the next decade, he said.

Citizens can register their opinions on the plans and the amendments by attending the meeting Tuesday night at 7:30 at Fitchburg City Hall, Council Chambers 5520 Lacy Road. Public comments are limited to three minutes. Citizens can also attend the meeting via Zoom at this link, or email their opinions to council&[email protected].