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Selectmen Get Youth Center Update

The Milford Youth Center is housed in the old National Guard Armory on Pearl St. While many aspects of the building have

been updated, many believe it needs a complete renovation.

Jane Bigda photo




The Board of Selectmen met with members of the Youth Commission and the Armory Renovation Committee to discuss the results of the committee's study on how to best renovate the former National Guard armory building on Pearl St. Youth Center Director James Sanchioni also gave the board an updated report on the Youth Center's activities.

Currently, the center's membership has grown from 200 to 800 youths ages eight to 18, with an average of 160 participating daily between 2:15 and 6 p.m. and another 50 to 100 after 6:30 p.m., Sanchioni said. "We are really being utilized all the time. We are being utilized by everyone in town," he explained.

Local businesses and civic groups have contributed more than $210,000 in major repairs, including a new boiler, windows, handicap lift, outside lighting, and scoreboard, Sanchioni said. Because the building needs a lot of repairs, "We always have something to do," the director said. The goals are to make the building compliant with fire, building and handicapped accessibility codes, and for the Youth Center to be more self-sufficient, he explained.

Currently, the Youth Center relies on donations and fund-raising to keep operating, with Sanchioni noting that $3,000 per month heating costs take their toll during the winter months. "Come winter time, we struggle to make ends meet," he said.

Architect Thomas Scarlata of Bargmann Hendrie + Archetype, Inc. outlined four "good, better, best" renovation alternatives ranging from $2.4 million to $4.5 million. Questioned by Selectman William Buckley, he said at least half the costs were needed to bring the building up to current fire, building and handicapped accessibility codes.

"I'm sure that, in a few years, that building could be rehabilitated," Selectmen Chairman Dino DeBartolomeis said. "We can see a time in the future when, hopefully, we can support that."

The Youth Center has made such an impact in its few years of existence that now "you couldn't imagine the town without this," said Murray, who chairs the Armory Renovation Committee. The Youth Commission has taken the necessary steps of getting the renovation listed with the Capital Improvement Committee and Finance Committee "for an eventual renovation to occur," he said.

Buckley said the level of current activities "far exceeded anything we thought could be going on there" and the Youth Commission has followed his board's past recommendations to get local businesses and community groups involved. In answer to his question about what community groups are charge Commission Chair Paul Seaver noted that there is a sliding scale and groups are given work to do in the center. "A new gym floor would pay for itself over the years" by allowing more groups to hold more events at the center, Seaver explained.

"We're at a crossroads," Murray said. "We really need to take the next step and bring this building to where it ought to be."




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