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Teen Center Fees OK'd For Membership
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There will be an annual $25 membership fee for use of the newly opened Riverbank Teen Center but with a maximum of $50 per family regardless of the number of children and with scholarships (free passes) for teens that cannot afford the cost.

The March 28 vote for approval was 3-2 with Councilmember Jesse James White and Vice Mayor Richard O'Brien voting against the motion.

Members of the Teen Action Committee recommended the annual fee to the city council to help offset the cost of purchasing new equipment, repairing old equipment and operating the center.

They also agreed with city officials paying a fee would give members a sense of ownership, even if the total fees came nowhere near the operating costs.

"They will take care of the place, keep it clean and not mess it up," said Lenecia Lopez who spoke along with Gerrick Figueroa and Tristan Platt.

Resident Scott McRitchie spoke in favor of having a membership fee.

"It's a few cents a day," he said. "These teens will be adults soon and will learn there's no free ride out there. You're teaching them everybody has to contribute. The money is nothing. It won't run the facility. But they will take pride in ownership. Cut out one night at the movies with his girlfriend and the fees are paid for the year."

Former councilmember Dave White, back on his feet and speaking at the podium after a severe illness, took a different view.

"It would be nice to charge. But what about the kids who cannot afford it? You're excluding them," he said. "We should not have built it if we cannot afford to maintain it. Don't put it on the kids. The poorer ones won't say anything. They just won't come. But it was built for them."

Parks and Recreation Director Sue Fitzpatrick said getting a scholarship would have the same family income requirements as free and reduced lunches at school and provide the same confidentiality. Her department already had a scholarship fund provided for summer swimming programs based on a $1,000 donation from the Salvation Army and another $500 from the Riverbank Federated Women's Association. The Teen Action Committee, in addition, would continue fundraisers.

Councilmember Dotty Nygard asked if the department ran out of funds for scholarships would it turn teens away. Fitzpatrick said that had never happened with any city recreational program and vowed it never would on her watch.

"We would raise the money somehow," she said.