PITTSFIELD, Mass. (NEWS10) – Calls are being made for a youth center in Pittsfield reignited after recent violence.
A two acre lot is owned by the city that’s working to the transform it into a park but one local woman says that’s not what the West Side neighborhood needs.
“The young girl that was recently murdered right down there across the street,” Valerie Hamilton, a youth center proponent, said.
Hamilton points out the proximity of the plot of land destined to be a park, to the place where 22-year-old Asiyanna Jones was gunned down.
“They don’t come to the neighborhood and say would you like a park they put this here and not one even knows what it is.”
What the West Side needs, Hamilton says is a youth center.
“My purpose is to stop the violence from god the violent of Black men in America.”
Three existing youth service programs say they’re willing to expand to close the gap.
In downtown Pittsfield, one of the largest Boys and Girls Club facilities in the country.
“I started coming here when I was nine and the club really changed my life,” McGovern said.
McGovern says he’s working with funders to develop a transportation program to reach the West Side.
“And that would provide our services to those in the areas who need it most.”
The Christian Center is located in the West Side, a neighborhood Executive Director Ellen Merritt says, has its demons.
Plans are in the works to expand the center into neighboring lots they already own and add big time to their now limited kids programs.
“It’s going to be a bigger initiative to really implement something that’s going to have a community wide impact and a city wide impact,” Merritt said.
Berkshire Children and Families serve 4,000 people every year but Erin Sullivan says there’s always more they can offer.
“This is a real call to all of us who provide services to youth in the city to get together and figure out what we can do better,” Sullivan, of Berkshire Children and Families, said.
Hamilton says these existing programs can’t measure up, the West Side needs something to call its own.
Mayor Linda Tyer wasn’t able to meet in person. She says she’s a proponent of youth.
“From the creation of an actual center to enhancing transportation resources to existing youth-oriented facilities, the discussions are exploring all options,” Mayor Tyer said.