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Generations facility may open by next summer

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POSTED May 3, 2013 2:23 a.m.

LATHROP – A few months ago it was unofficially known as the “teen center.”

But when Lathrop’s Generations Center finally opens its doors, something that local officials believe could happen by next summer, it’ll have a little bit of something for everybody.

Thanks to a $5 million grant that will cover the construction of the building and its ancillary sections, the facility – which will consist of a place for nearby Lathrop High School students to hang at after school, a concrete skate park, a community garden, a computer lab and a classroom among others – will offer local programs in a centralized location.

The bidding process is currently open, and Councilman Omar Ornelas – who cut his teeth on the Youth Advisory Commission and has long been a champion of the project – has high hopes for what it will bring to the community at large.

“I really think that this will be something that’s new and advanced and we’ll be able to use it as an expansion of what we’re currently offering,” he said. “It’s going to be a great chance for people to participate in something that’s innovative.

“When it comes to the teens we want to provide something that’s tech savvy – offering gaming tournaments and things like that. Something new.”

Several local organizations already offer after school programs intended to give kids an outlet and an alternative to the trouble that they might otherwise come across without adult supervision. The Boys and Girls Club and Give Every Child a Chance have long been popular options, and just recently Image Changers Church announced it’d be starting a program of its own.

Ornelas said that the city would likely sit down with some organizations to determine the best way to meet the needs of the youth of the community as the opening target date of the center draws nearer. Some overlap, he said, would be unavoidable, and would present parents with opportunities.

“That’s something that we’re going to have to think about as we start to figure out the programs that we want to implement,” Ornelas said. “Each program offers something that’s a little bit different, so what you find at the teen center isn’t going to be quite the same as what you find at a tutoring program.”

Once completed the facility will also house the new Lathrop Branch of the Stockton-San Joaquin Public Library – an expanded space that will include a computer lab and a community classroom.

According to Ornelas, the library system has already come up with plans for what it wants to incorporate into the portion of the building it will occupy.

Having so many things centrally located, he said, will only enhance the usability of the site, which will be located on the west side of I-5.

“They’re taking a leading role on what they’d like to see and have gone over plans with staff and offered their input,” he said of library representatives. “It shows that the process as a whole is moving along. We’ll be awarding the bid shortly, so it’s an exciting time for everybody.”

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