OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has said repeatedly that the kids of Oakland need things to do that keep them off the street, so why is a brand-new youth center is sitting empty?
Five years after the West Oakland Youth Center first broke ground, the lights are on, renovations are done, but the building remains vacant. The facility was supposed to begin operations last summer, but the opening was pushed before the city failed to come up with the $200,000 needed to run the place.
The cash problem was eventually resolved, but Mayor Quan said it still isn’t ready.
“We’re still finishing the murals and the inside construction,” said Quan.
But KPIX 5 discovered that the issues keeping the center closed are not purely cosmetic.
The problem is, the center was built at a cost of about $8 million with no operating plan. So now, it has to stay closed while city officials try and figure out what programs will be offered there.
Council member Lynette McElhaney’s office told KPIX 5 that the bottom line is Nancy Nadel, a former council member, got the center built but plans for operation lagged.
“We’ve been putting out proposals for youth groups to come in and operate the center, so we’re in the process of picking a group or groups that can come together,” said Quan.
To move forward, the city plans to contract with Alameda County to run the West Oakland Youth Center. That contract should be in place by January, but there is still no firm timeline for when the center will open.
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