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TEENS HOPING CAFE PROPOSAL CAN LEAD TO YOUTH CENTER

It is not a new youth center, but Alden teen-agers hope a proposed town community center cafe can provide a nice hangout.

A group of Alden High School students next week will propose an after-school cafe at the existing center in the town park, off West Main Street, to senior citizens who use the facility.

Some students hope the cafe can one day lead to a new youth center.

"There are a lot of people who want it, said Elizabeth Carey, an Alden High School senior.

Several Alden High School teens have pushed for a new youth center during the last two years as members of a Youth Center Committee. The committee also involves Alden town, village and school leaders, who met Monday night to discuss funding options.

Some of the nearly 35 residents and public officials who attended the session expressed frustration that a new center has yet to be built.

"Haven't we proven ourselves that we want a center? said Melinda Wadsworth, an Alden High School senior. "We've done surveys. We've done tons of different things.

Alden Supervisor Richard Savage said the town can fund a $10,000 survey to determine exact costs and initial renderings of a new youth center. He does not want the survey done until the village and school district commit to funding a portion of the youth center, initially estimated to cost $180,000 to build.

"Wanting and being able to do it may come together, and it may not, Savage said.

Mayor Michael Retzlaff said $25,000 will be set aside in the proposed 2000-01 village budget for youth services. He said any additional village funding will be tough to secure.

"Without the finances, the building will not occur, Retzlaff said.

Alden School Superintendent Donald W. Raw Jr. said it will be easier for the district to fund youth center programs than a new building.

He said School Board members will have to decide on how much funding the district can provide.

"As far as our direct financial support for a youth center, that is something that has to be nailed down, Raw said.

"What we need to figure out is what things the school needs to support such as programs rather than bricks and mortar.

Raw said a proposed youth center will have to be on school property in order for state educational building aid to fund any costs of a new facility.

Savage said many youths do not want a new center on school property.

"They've been there all day, he said. "They don't want it connected to the school.

The student presentation to seniors is set for 1 p.m. Feb. 9 in the town community center off West Main Street.

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