Foster City plans teen paradise

A new stage for bands. A bigger skate park. Video game and TV rooms, art rooms, homework rooms and a kitchen. In total, some 9,600 square feet of awesomeness.

That’s what Foster City teens have in store if bids for a giant new teen center come in below the $6 million mark that city officials have set aside for the project.

The City Council gave the long-dreamed-of project the nod at a budget meeting recently and a request for proposals was issued. If a bid receives approval at the council’s March 3 meeting, construction could start as early as May.

Right now, Foster City’s wildly successful Vibe program for teens is housed in a temporary building. The program regularly draws between 150 and 200 youths each weekend to hear bands play, and hundreds more drop in on weekdays to hang out at the facility, said Park and Recreation Director Kevin Miller.

The new teen center, which was designed with input from teens, will also include a multipurpose room, a dance area and outdoor basketball courts, Miller said. Tennis courts for the center have already been constructed, he said.

The permanent teen center was first conceived as a $2 million project, but that figure has tripled as features have been added and construction prices have climbed, Mayor Pam Frisella said.

Devoting so much city money to a single project is “kind of scary,” Frisella admitted. But last week’s budget report looked positive enough that the council decided to move forward with the project, despite worries about the strength of the economy.

As of the start of the year, the city had about $16.8 million of reserve cash in its coffers — some $3.7 million more than expected just six months before, City Manager Jim Hardy said.

Meghan Duddy, a 20-year-old Foster City resident and former Vibe regular, said she thinks the $6 million investment will be much appreciated by the city’s youth. While some city’s teen centers and programs have a reputation as geeky gathering places, that hasn’t held true for Vibe, she said.

“I’ve seen the plans and they’re awesome,” she said. “It’s gonna be huge, and there will be a real stage, so band nights will get even more popular. It’s just gonna be sick.”

kworth@examiner.com  

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