Things are looking up for Trackside.
Mark Ketley, the teen center’s executive director, updated the Board of Selectmen Monday night about progress made at Trackside over the past year.
“We’ve had another strong year we’re very excited about and proud of,” Ketley said.
Ketley said the teen center is once again asking for a flat budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Trackside hasn’t asked for a budget increase since 2009-2010, Ketley said.
“Expenses have gone up, but we’re doing more with less,” he said. “We understand our obligation to continue to manage our budget responsibly.”
In addition to the flat budget—which comes in at $143,963—Ketley said attendance is up at Trackside—both for teens and for community groups.
“Our drop-ins have risen dramatically,” he said. “The numbers have been going up every month of the school year and this past January we had 144 drop-ins, the most we ever had there.”
In 2012, 4,700 teens used the center, and 5,800 people from the community attended the facility for various board meetings, fund-raising activities and other special events.
“When the teens aren’t there, we want someone to be in the building,” Ketley said. But “it’s a teen center first—we understand that.”
First Selectman William Brennan said he’s happy to see the progress Trackside’s made over the last few years.
“We’ve certainly been pleased, since the change of leadership and the change of the direction of the teen center,” he said. “We had an underutilized facility a few years ago. [Now], we’re using the facility as it was originally planned [to be used]. Before, we were really getting close to pulling the plug on it.”
Ketley said the teen center has a strategic planning group, chaired by Police Chief Michael Lombardo, which is aiming to address what needs they feel the town still has. The group will look for what’s missing and figure out how to make that happen at Trackside.
Trackside is also trying to put together a major new fall fundraiser, while continuing to apply for grants.
“We’re constantly trying to raise more funds,” Ketley said. “We’re controlling our expenses pretty well. We have no debt. Our bills are paid. We have money in the bank, and at the end of the year, we’ll have a positive variance.”