The City Council will vote Tuesday on a proposed partnership between the city and the designed to offer diversion programs for teens causing trouble in during the weekly .
The city has pursued numerous strategies in attempting to tame the "overly rambunctious, rude, vulgar and generally obnoxious" behavior of some teenagers who congregate at the park on Fridays, but none of the plans have worked, according to City Manager Scott Ochoa.
"And while it is a point of pride that Old Town is seen as a safe environment such that some parents feel comfortable allowing their children to come to Old Town unsupervised, the kids’ behavior can present a complex problem from time to time," Ochoa wrote in an agenda report. "Indeed, sometimes these kids place themselves in potentially dangerous situations."
City officials have received numerous complaints about teens smoking, using obscene language and vandalizing property in the park, according to Ochoa. The city because of the teen's rowdy behavior.
"In the past, the city has used Family Festival security, recreation leaders, police officers and, more recently, park rangers to handle this situation," Ochoa wrote. "Based on various evaluations, none of these solutions have proven especially effective."
The SAFYMCA will make the latest attempt at reaching out to the kids with an outreach effort they'll call "Square One," and representatives from the organization have already been talking with teens on Fridays to figure out what constructive activities might keep them busy, said Damon Colaluca, the nonprofit's executive director.
The first two Fridays of the program will be used as a focus group where teens are invited to give their input and help shape the activities that will eventually take place. The program will be evaluated bi-weekly, Colaluca said, to make sure it is working properly.
"We plan on doing like we do with all teen programs--talking with teens and finding out wnat their hopes, dreams and goals are and helping them create programs that they feel are impactful to their lives," Colaluca said.
The extent of the programs have yet to be fleshed out but could include anything from art and music activities to sports, Colaluca said. The program will be designed to "meet the youth where they are" instead of trying to move them out of Old Town, according to Ochoa.
"Part of the staffing effort focuses on having official and identifiable staff, augmented by screened/fingerprinted volunteers (parents, youth ministers, etc.), circulating through Old Town in an effort to corral the youth back to the Park, where they can be exposed to positive and constructive interactions," Ochoa wrote.
The city will pay the SAFYMCA $11,077 for its services, which Colaluca said would run during the upcoming summer months.
"I think its going to be a great opportunity and a lot of fun for the kids who are there at Library Park," Colaluca said. "My hope is that it makes that whole Friday night experience more enjoyable there for teens and adults alike."