Youth center in the works

Planning and Zoning Commissioner Jim Irving, DOVES Network founder Tiffany Mensah and Councilmember Eric Goettl listen as Councilmember Henry Wade speaks during a Community Coalition subcommittee meeting on Nov. 27, 2023. The group discussed an upcoming teen center. [Monica D. Spencer]

Teens could have a new hangout next year.

Plans to create a youth recreation center are in the works thanks to the Maricopa Community Coalition, an organization of local community leaders.

According to Maricopa City Councilmember Eric Goettl, the coalition hopes to repurpose the Maricopa Police Department’s substation on Bowlin Road and Greythorn Drive after dispatchers relocate to the new headquarters next year.

“We think it’s more economically feasible just to retrofit that building into a teen center,” Goettl said. “The building is already there, so a construction timeline is now gone.”

The city has long lacked a designated youth center, according to coalition and zoning board member Jim Irving.

“People have been talking about this teen center for 10 to 12 years in Maricopa,” he said. “This is the furthest it’s ever gotten.”

While the city would allocate funds and request proposals to get the facility off the ground, it would be operated by a private entity.

“I know the Boys and Girls Club has expressed interest and the YMCA has expressed interest in the past,” Goettl said. “There may be one or two others that might step up and want to run a teen center.”

Assuming city staff and members of the Maricopa City Council approve funding and plans for the center in a timely manner, he estimated it could open by the end of next year.

Even with those possible roadblocks, Maricopa Virtual Academy senior Louis Kroll said chatter about a dedicated space for teens feels exciting.

Louis Kroll, a senior at Maricopa Virtual Academy, sits in a Community Coalition teen center subcommittee meeting on Nov. 27, 2023. [Monica D. Spencer]
“It feels good that teens will finally have a place of their own,” he said. “I feel like there’s pretty much no space now. It’s all shared with younger kids and kind of ruins the vibe.”

The coalition hopes to use input from teens to envision what programs and services will be available at the center.

Members of the coalition are still seeking that input from those aged 12 to 18. A link to the seven-question survey can be found here.