An outreach and community engagement survey – focused on resources for teenage residents – will take place to determine what social services are needed in neighborhoods in the far northwest of the city of Fitchburg.
The City of Fitchburg City Council approved a contract with EQT By Design at its meeting on Tuesday, October 12, to manage and administer reports on community outreach, engagement and equity, with the intention to use them to determine what services a future adolescent center in the Verona Road West neighborhood could provide. Funding for the survey comes from $ 25,000 from the city’s operating budget, $ 2,850 in private donations and $ 3,000 in private donations from the United Way Fitchburg Fund, for a total of $ 30,850.
EQT By Design was the only one to respond to the call for tenders sent out by the city.
City community development planner Wade Thompson said the five-member interview panel had a “recommendation of unanimous and enthusiastic approval” for EQT By Design’s proposal. Thompson told Alders that the narrowness of the project was likely the reason the city received only one proposal, as well as the lack of a planning design element.
Ald. Joe Maldonado (Dist. 1), one of the five panel members, expressed his support for EQT By Design and their proposal.
“They are really equity driven and their mission is really focused on including voices that are generally not heard in city policy or any other kind of development engagement process,” a- he declared.
Ald. Dave Herbst (D-1) said that although he supported the study, he remains opposed to the city spending millions on the proposed teen center.
“We can do a lot of great things for very little money, and we’ll see what the study does, but I’ll fight tooth and nail against anyone who wants to buy this building and spend a ton of money when we can find better.” ways to serve our youth, ”he said.
The proposed adolescent center would complement the City’s Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative, a strategic plan adopted in 2017 to provide city grants to underserved parts of the city. It is proposed that the center be located in the Verona Road West Corridor – one of the three current zones of the Healthy Neighborhood initiatives – near a public park with outdoor facilities, and will include an indoor space with areas for learning, recreation, culture, resources and social gathering dedicated to adolescents aged 13 to 20, as well as their parents or guardians, according to documents included in the council’s dossier.
The purchase of a building along Anton Drive overlooking Verona Road / Hwy. 151 for the teenage center was rejected from the 2021 city budget in a tiebreaker with the mayor in November 2020. During this meeting, the council voted against the purchase of a vacant building in the Jamestown neighborhood for the center, despite Maldonado’s proposed amendments to fund operations, but had it include funding for the community engagement survey.
The city of Fitchburg will conduct a feasibility study for the creation of a teenage center – at a reduced scope compared to what was originally planned.
Both the Hub’s Phase II community center and the proposed adolescent center are slated for construction and opening within the next five years after …
Alders are seeking to speed up construction timelines for the teenage center in the Verona Road West neighborhood and the second phase of The Hub in the Leopold neighborhood, as well as to reduce the city of Fitchburg’s carbon footprint with new solar panels.