Construction to begin on Youth Study Center

April 21, 2009 4:46:38 PM PDT
Construction is underway on a brand new Youth Study Center for Philadelphia's troubled kids.After years of controversy and debate, this multimillion dollar building even has opponents smiling at the bright future ahead for our challenged children.

Tuesday's ceremonial ground breaking clears the way for much more than pomp and circumstance. A new Youth Study Center will be built on a 5 acre plot of land at 48th Street and Haverford Avenue.

"It's not a jail. It's not a prison. It's a place where kids who need help get a new opportunity to get back on track," said Mayor Michael Nutter.

The new facility for arrested juveniles awaiting hearings, trial and placement will replace the 1/2 century old outdated Spring Garden facility that's been demolished to make way for the Barnes Museum.

Youth are temporarily housed in an East Falls facility. The new $50-million state of the art youth study center will have 150 beds, two courtrooms, a school, outdoor recreation space and a neighborhood community room. It will be silver rated and certified for energy efficient environmentally conscious design.

"We put a lot of our heart and soul into this building because it's very clear that kids really respond to the way you treat them and the surroundings and the environment that you create for them can lead to additional success," said Anne Marie Ambrose, the DHS Commissioner.

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell long supported a new center and vows it will be a good neighbor.

"One where community can feel safe that children will be inside and not outside, that won't have problems with traffic flow, with assessments in property or any of those other hard questions you've asked over the years."

People who once lead protests against building the center here are on board now.

"This facility is going to house kids from across city. All these kids are our kids regardless of what we think about facility. They're our kids," said Joan Williams of the West Philadelphia Coalition.

Actual construction is set to begin this summer. Completion of the new youth study center is anticipated in early 2011.

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