Youth Center Focus

The new Oregon Youth Center building will be constructed in a lot adjacent to the current Youth Center building on North Oak Street. A groundbreaking for the new site was held in late June, but delays in approvals halted construction until this month.

About a year after a local organization set its sights on getting a new Oregon Youth Center, the village will have it.

The new center is being funded almost entirely by donations and will be more than twice the size of the building it’s replacing. The Oregon Community Resource Network, a group of local volunteers committed to promoting the village, raised about $1 million over the past year for the new youth center.

The construction of had a false start or two this year, but since October, when the project got underway in earnest, it’s been “making good headway,” said local building contractor Dan Bertler, president of Supreme Structures Inc.

He estimated the 5,800-square-foot building at the corner of Park and Oak streets would be “done and ready to open in early- to mid-March.”

Supreme Structures is donating its time and labor to demolish the existing youth center, a 40-year-old metal structure at 110 N. Oak St. that formerly served as a village EMS building, and build a new one in its place.

OCRN and the village held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site in late June, which turned out to be premature after legal complications and poor soils delayed the start of construction until the second week in October.

“We’ve been dealing with the soil conditions and the high water table,” Bertler, an OCRN board member, explained this month, “and we finally overcame it all and are moving forward.”

He had planned to construct the new building, move the youth center into it and then take down the building that’s being replaced. He and the OCRN board later decided to search for a temporary home for the center while construction is in progress, and last month they announced that Hillcrest Bible Church had offered to donate space for the kids until March.

The new center will have an indoor play area with a pool table and air hockey, a half-court basketball area, a comfortable seating area, a computer lab/conference room and a “warming kitchen.”

Bertler said architects call the center’s design “the barn look” because of its high ceiling and relatively open floor plan.

“It’s going to be so much better than anything they’ve ever had,” he predicted.

— Bill Livick