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Youth center idea seeks funding to get started

New Richmond area youth may have another place to hang out, if a local woman's plans become a reality.

Shannon Hagman hopes to open a non-profit youth center, called "Landzkape," late this summer. The center already has a board of directors and non-profit status paperwork is being filed.

The center would be located in a commercial building at 240 Wisconsin Drive in the New Richmond Business and Technical Park.

"Youth centers are a benefit to the communities that they're in," Hagman told the New Richmond City Council at its Monday meeting.

In asking the city for financial support for the idea, Hagman said the center would be especially helpful to low-income youth who fare better when they're involved in structured, adult-supervised activities after school.

According to her plans, the center would feature 6,000 square feet of space.

The amenities would include an education center with computers, arcade games, pool tables, stage, DJ equipment for dance and club nights, snack area, craft corner and mini golf.

Hagman estimates she needs about $94,000 before opening the center. So far she has about $40,000 in pledged support, much of which is her own personal money. She also plans on applying for grants to close the funding gap.

Alderman Jim Zajkowski said the city already supports The New Richmond Area Centre, which operates a youth center and provides recreational opportunities for all ages.

Hagman said she's been in contact with The Centre to help complement what's already available for youth.

"We're working on ways to partner to better serve the community," she said.

However, Alderman Fred Horne said new funding for such an idea may be hard to come by. "We're kind of tapped out."

But Hagman said she intends to approach area municipalities to gain financial support from across the region, and council members seemed more open to that idea.

"We'd probably look at matching what the townships do," Horne suggested.

"We're a community now," said Zajkowski, referring to the Government Entities Network's efforts to foster cooperation among all municipalities in the New Richmond School District. "We're willing to help if everybody else wants to help."

Alderman Kirk Van Blaircom said he wasn't convinced the city should commit to funding an idea without seeing a detailed business plan first.

Even if the youth center is a good idea, Van Blaircom said the council needed to make sure tax dollars were being spent wisely.

"You have to look at ... is this a sustainable concept?" he said.

The council approved a motion to match, dollar for dollar, any contributions surrounding townships or villages pledge.

Van Blaircom and Alderman Ron Volkert voted to abstain due to a lack of information on the topic.