Bellefonte Youth Center’s search for new home continues

The Centre County Youth Service Bureau is getting closer to finding a new home for the Bellefonte Youth Center.

The center is in the Temple Court Building, next to the Centre County Courthouse annex. But with planned renovations to that building about to start, and estimated to take about two years to complete, the center must relocate.

Cue a Goldilocks-style scramble to find something just right. It has to be able to support what happens at the center, mostly after school or early evening programming for a variety of children’s activities. They have to be able to serve food to the kids, who get snacks in the afternoon and a hot meal in the evening. And ideally, it would be just as accessible and centrally located as the Temple Court property.

That’s a tough order to fill, but YSB CEO Andrea Boyles said she has seen a number of possibilities.

“At this time, we have a couple that are legitimate options,” she said.

One is a “great space owned by a church,” which Boyles said has a lot of the features the center needs. The one area it lacks is visibility.

“It’s kind of hidden. We want to be visible to the community. We encourage people to come in and get to know us. But ultimately, we feel confident that is a good option,” she said.

The second would see YSB buying property to create its own space.

“Owning might be best thing for us, but we have to get a feel. We’re exploring that now,” said Boyles.

The group must explore quickly. The county set a June 1 deadline to vacate the Temple Court Building; however, Boyles said, there is wiggle room and it could be pushed to July 1. She hopes to have a direction on which site to move to by May 19.

Boyles is open to suggestions — something she says the public has been great about providing. The other area needing help is with the move. In addition to bodies to pack and move the center’s stuff from one place to another, YSB needs help preparing and organizing the new space, feeding volunteers and helping provide services to the kids at an alternate location if necessary during the move. The YMCA of Centre County has also stepped up, offering to help YSB bridge that gap over the summer.

“It’s the gap between what the YMCA is able to do and what the community needs. The YSB provides an invaluable service to the youth of Bellefonte,” said CEO Howard Long.

Then, of course, there is money.

“Bottom line is whether we rent or buy, we will have expenses we didn’t plan for, things we never predicted when we did our budgeting,” said Boyles, who said YSB will “happily accept donations that can be earmarked for the move.”