No Youth Center For Plattsburgh
Years ago (how many? I can’t recall) a bored Plattsburgh teen told me how easy it was to score street drugs. The statement wasn’t surprising. After all, “Da Burgh” is one of the main connections along the Montreal – New York City pipeline.
The bored teen mentioned that he didn’t want to get into drugs for recreation, but it was hard to find something to do. The drug scene was an opportunity to meet people his own age, to find a common interest.
With his comment in mind I approached a city councilor about setting up a youth center. Smaller communities in the area – Saranac Lake and Lake Placid – had such centers. (See links below.) The councilor liked the idea and looked into it.
A spot was found on the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base, a basement area that once housed a bowling alley. Asbestos had to be removed. After that was completed, the bureaucratic glacier ground to a halt. Not a whisper about a youth center.
Then I noticed in the news that the basement area in the Recreation Department had been rehabbed into a community room that would be rented out for various events. I contacted the Rec Superintendent, Steve Peters, via email, inquiring about the possibility that the room could be used as a part-time youth center.
Peters promptly responded, saying that there was no money in the city budget to operate a youth center. I appreciated his quick response; less than twelve hours. He wrote:
“Thank you for your email. The Community Room is set up to be available as a multi-purpose room to accommodate a variety of needs in the community, which certainly can include youth activities. The Recreation Department is currently not staffed or equipped to appropriately manage a Youth Center, but I would welcome any individual or group that is interested in reserving space and running programs for area youth. The room is available to be scheduled/reserved on a first-come, first-served basis and is free for public non-profit and not-for-profit activities (or $25/hr for fee-based or private use).”
So there’s an opportunity for some activities for youth but not on a regular basis. When dealing with a problem, consistency is key. The door is a bit open but as for a full time youth center, it’s dead.
Prevention or enforcement? Enforcement just rounds up a few more low level dealers, a routine repeated every few months. Then more dealers move in to take over. Prevention could result in fewer customers and fewer dealers.
Somehow small towns like Saranac Lake and Lake Placid have the money for youth centers. But not the “big city” of Plattsburgh.
Meanwhile drugs keep running through Plattsburgh, a major stop on the pipeline. And its teens are bored.