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Teen Center Due For Grand Opening
Innovative in design and colorful both within and without, the Riverbank Teen Center is due for a ribbon cutting and grand opening on Saturday, Feb. 26, at 10 a.m. at 3600 Santa Fe, adjacent to the Community Center. There will be tours, refreshments, entertainment and games as part of the grand opening festivities.

The $800,000 building was designed by Indigo of Davis and built by Menghetti Construction of Modesto. Initial discussions between the architect, city officials and local teens began in 2006 but interruptions in financing delayed a start to construction until last spring.

Financing included a state grant of $251,000, teen-led fundraising of more than $35,000, city system development fees, redevelopment funds and community donations.

The design incorporates exposed post and beam construction carrying a metal roof with straw bale walls encased in stucco at the corners and favors super insulation, energy efficiency and natural airflow. Garage-like doors at the front and back can be rolled up to allow air and light to circulate freely through the building in summer.

Led by Parks and Recreation Director Sue Fitzpatrick, city officials and contractor's representatives toured the building Wednesday to note any deficiencies that need correction before the city formally accepts the center.

Within the open, wall-less interior, "corner alcoves" include a lounge for reading, taking in television and music at the northeast corner; a room for classes at the southeast corner; an "Internet café" with computer terminals and a food counter offering snacks at the southwest corner; and the office, weight room, restrooms and storage area at the northwest corner. The center of the building has been left open for group gatherings to watch a large TV lowered from the ceiling or play games like pool or ping pong at movable tables.

Looking a little unfinished, the ceiling has been left uncovered to reveal the varnished wood beams and insulation.

Interior wall colors are primarily earthen shades of tan and green, while the colors and design of the furniture yet to be installed will be "creative, exciting and teen-friendly," said Fitzpatrick.

For landscaping, sod has been installed at the front of the building (along with a metal structure that is a bike rack for locking up bicycles) and the ground at the back will be seeded for further grass areas. Parking is available in the recently extended Community Center parking lot with a concrete path leading to the center.

After the Feb. 26 opening, the center should open to the youth early in March with part-time employees of the recreation department taking turns in staffing the site, said Fitzpatrick. Tentative hours for teens to drop in are from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and from noon until 5 p.m. on Saturdays with the center being reserved for classes such as art, guitar and dance in the evenings, said Fitzpatrick.