SUSAN ELZEY Special in Register & Bee
Ashtyn Foddrell had a dream and on Wednesday night it came true when the ribbon was cut at the Peace Community Center at 827 Green Street.
The property, which previously served as the Green Street Police Station, will now be a police-run community center for youth and adolescents.
When Foddrell became the community relations liaison with the Danville Police Department, she went door to door in the Green Street neighborhood, asking residents what they would like to happen in the area.
She told the crowd of police officers, city government officials and neighborhood residents that there were three reasons the center was created.
“While I’m on the pitch one of the most important things that I constantly hear is that young people are saying there is nothing to do in Danville,” she said. . “So I wanted to provide them with this safe space where they can come, have fun and be offered the services and resources they need. “
She said residents also wanted the space to be converted back into a community center, which it was before it was turned into a police station in the early 1990s.
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Finally, she said, Police Chief Scott Booth always strives to build positive relationships between the police and the community.
“So why not do it through a youth center which we know will be a great asset here for the town of Danville? she said.
With that idea in mind, Foddrell went to see Booth, who immediately liked the idea, she said.
Foddrell even chose the name “Peace”, which stands for “Police Embrace Active Community Engagement”.
She will serve as the facility manager, along with Cpl. Sylvia Brooks from the police department and two school resource officers.
The program will be available for young people between the ages of 10 and 18, along with other programs for younger people, Foddrell said.
Young people will register for the programs and will have a membership card to admit them.
Booth said police would still be working outside the building, but a youth center is the “best way to use this facility.”
“Like a lot of things, we talked about feasibility and what the community wanted,” Booth said. “It’s about building a relationship between the police and the community, and in the end, that’s what makes a community safer.
The center will include video game and arcade options, a skeeball, pool table, televisions, dance space and homework location, as well as an event planning and scheduling space for the engagement team, according to a press release.
According to Kenny Lewis, director of the organization, tutoring will also be available through the Danville Church-based tutoring program.
An aeroponic garden is also planned to provide STEM education where young people can grow their own food.
Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones was on hand for the ribbon cutting and said he felt like “coming home” as he grew up in the neighborhood and used the old youth center.
“Me, with my friends and the young people in the community, I would go to the center to play on pool tables, ping pong tables, card games like spades and so many different options for the young people” , he recalls. “There was always something to do every day at the youth center.
“With the basketball court located outside, you can still look out the center windows to see who was competing on the basketball court.”
City Councilor Barry Mayo also played basketball at the center in the late 1970s and early 1980s, honing his skills to earn a college basketball scholarship.
“My first summer job after my first year of college was as a youth leader here. I was named ‘Youth Leader of the Year’, ”he said with a laugh. “This is one thing that we miss and want to get back.”
Jones said that since Booth’s arrival, the goal of both City Council and Booth has been to increase community engagement.
“The center is a great example of the police department’s outreach efforts. With the collaboration of partners and more community engagement efforts, I can see the success of the new youth center and the many opportunities it will offer young people as well as adults, ”he said. “I believe this is just the beginning of what is coming for young people, not only in this community, but in other communities in our city.
Jones recalled that years ago, city council went to a retreat in south Boston for “three long days” and came up with three strategies for the city.
“We wanted to reduce violent crime through community engagement, support education and develop Danville,” he said. “We gave [the strategies] to city manager, Ken Larking, and he took the ball and ran with it. Then Chief Booth came along, and he was a godsend.
Jones said violent crime has declined dramatically and the goals have changed to support education first, second to develop Danville, and third to reduce crime through community engagement.
“I also asked if we could add a fourth strategy of building partnerships and involving the community as a whole as partners,” he said.
The Peace Community Center is an example of such strategies, he said.
Photos: Community Peace Center celebrated in Danville
Elzey is a freelance writer for the Register & Bee. She can be reached at [email protected] or 434-791-7991.