A celebratory cloud of dirt was shoveled into the morning sunshine by a host of elected officials, leaders of City departments, and representatives of youth advocacy organizations at today's ceremonial groundbreaking of the Southside Teen Center.
Various parties have advocated and planned the Teen Center for at least a decade. The groundwork earned $6.8 million of funding by the State Legislature, and $3.2 million was unanimously allocated by the Governing Body last week. Construction of the facility is expected to be complete by May of 2023.
Mayor Alan Webber was joined in the celebration by members of the City Council, including District 3 representatives Christopher Rivera and Roman “Tiger” Abeyta, who both expressed gratitude for the team effort that was required to greenlight the project.
“This is a great day for the teens of Santa Fe and a great day for future generations,” said Councilor Rivera.
Councilor Abeyta said four years ago he expressed to Mayor Webber that building the Teen Center would be his top priority as Councilor -- "and here we are today breaking ground."
He handled the honors of thanking several of those in attendance: State Senator Nancy Rodriguez; Rep. Linda Serrato; Miguel Acosta of Earth Care; Director of Public Works Regina Wheeler; Director of Community Health and Safety Kyra Ochoa; Finance Director Mary McCoy; Purchasing Officer Fran Dunaway; Facilities Division Director Sam Burnett; and City Manager Jarel LaPan Hill.
Councilor Abeyta introduced Seneca Johnson, one of the youth leaders of Earth Care, who described the community engagement process that went into designing the center: “We spoke to hundreds of youth in our Southside neighborhoods here and throughout the City who contributed their ideas and visions to the design of the teen center but also to a vision of how our community’s investment in this project is connected to their feelings of belonging, being recognized as valuable member of our community, being seen and appreciated, and being supported. This is an investment for us as youth and in us as youth -- and that means a lot.”
“Our partnerships are paying off in significant capital investments in building the future of Santa Fe,” said Mayor Webber. “The community’s investment in the young people of Santa Fe is the best investment we can make.”
Located across Country Club Rd. from the Southside Public Library and adjacent to the Boys & Girls Club, the center's allocation of space is based on surveys of teens who were asked what they want and need: a gym, game room, arts and crafts space, a dance and performance studio, and an outdoor sports area/soccer field. The kids' top motivations for their choices were for places to de-stress, stay healthy, and build relationships with peers. The center will promote education and career opportunities, health and wellness, afterschool and child care programs, and provide outreach services to benefit the community as a whole.
The building will be LEED-certified Silver for sustainability, by conserving money and energy, reducing waste and greenhouse emissions, and promoting the health and safety of occupants.
Watch a video of the ceremony here.