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La Canada Ends Sponsorship of Teen Center


With little opposition from the teen community of La Canada Flintridge, the City Council voted unanimously Monday to withdraw its sponsorship of the Teen Center that closed last month at La Canada Elementary School.

The city staff recommended the closure of the facility, citing low attendance, insufficient staff, a lack of funds and community complaints over noise.

No teen-agers spoke at the City Council session, and city officials said they encountered little protest from teens when the closure was announced.

The city spent $11,330 on the center, which it viewed as "an experiment," Councilwoman Joan Feehan said.

The center opened Oct. 1, 1988, and closed Oct. 4, 1989.

"I hate to see it go, but obviously it has not worked," Councilman O. Warren Hillgren said.

The council intended that a private organization would eventually take over the administration of the center, Councilwoman Joan Feehan said.

"I'm disappointed it didn't get more support from the community. . . . The program really limped along. Nobody in the community wanted to take it over," Feehan said. "We're not big enough to run and staff a full teen center . . . , and the teens didn't seem to want it." The center was opened in response to community concerns that La Canada Flintridge teens "had nowhere to go," Feehan said.

Much of the initial attention for the project began after an 18-year-old La Canada High School senior, reportedly drunk at the time, fell from a porch roof during a classmate's party and died as a result of head injuries.

"We did everything we could to fill a void in the community, and it just wasn't successful," she added.

The program worked at first because it was new to the teen-agers and because staff members spent lots of time on the program, said Katy Duanis, coordinator of the city's Parks and Recreation Commission.

Attendence continued to fluctuate, from 150 for dance events to three or four on nights when no particular program was planned. The average attendence hovered at about 20, Duanis said.

The center's one-year history was also fraught with other problems, Mayor Pro Tem Chris Valente said.

"It never really got off the ground to start with," Valente said. "It was originally intended for 11th- and 12th-graders and ended up attracting junior high school students."

The center's original site was in the gymnasium at Foothill Intermediate School. It was moved in mid-January to an auditorium at La Canada Elementary School after attendence declined markedly, Duanis said.

Property damage at the La Canada Elementary School site also detracted from the center's image with the community, Valente said.

When it first opened, the center had a sign-in policy restricting access. But the regulation was soon abandoned to create a less structured environment so that more students might be attracted.

One resident who lives across the street from the school said she is "certainly glad they're doing away with the center. There were kids running through our yard, some of them ripped a tree of ours in half. They threw fruit against the side of the house, and they trashed our front lawn."

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