Cambridge Teen Center Project a topic of interest at Cambridge Council

Teenagers in neighboring towns have a place to call their own, so why not Cambridge?

Members of the Cambridge Teen Center Project received a boost in their goal of opening their own place in town, thanks to a presentation complete with testimony from youths at the Jan. 21 Cambridge City Council meeting.

Leading the way was Gary Hawkins, who as a retired teacher, current Cambridge-Isanti school board member and father is supporting the cause with his time and leadership on the group’s committee.

At city hall, he facilitated the presentation, which ended with the council confirming its commitment to the teen center project.

Hawkins began by introducing a good turnout of youths from the North Branch Teen Center who shared what their center means to them.

It’s a place to hang out with friends or meet new ones. It’s a place to play games from foosball to pool. It’s a place to “get away from it all” when stress builds. It’s even a place to get help him on homework, the teenagers took turns telling the council.

Hawkins noted the Cambridge Teen Center’s committee consists of all generations representing government, schools, families, churches and Family Pathways — a nonprofit that offers many programs including teens centers in Princeton, North Branch, Mora and Forest Lake.

In fact, Family Pathways in Cambridge wants to help out, too, and provides its conference room for the committee to hold its planning sessions.

Hawkins said the committee has looked at many sites around town and has narrowed its search down to two possible locations.

The committee is currently discussing funding projections, fundraising events and how grants and the community can help with startup costs and ongoing expenses once a new home is found.

Yet the youths have their standards, as they value and want to take ownership of their new teen center.

The right location will be clean, of quality and have the right amenities including space for an indoor gym, classrooms for education and art and green space for outdoor activities, the teens explained.

As mentioned, the city council appears on board with a teen center.

And it looks to be a topic both sides will revisit again and again.