Stalemate. Draw. Tie. The recent outcome of the city council meeting on April 16th regarding the proposed Logos College Youth Center offered no outcome at all. As detailed in the meeting summary, of the five voting council members, Councilmember Sandke recused himself and the remaining four votes were split. Mayor Richard Bailey and Councilmember Heinze voted in favor of the project, Councilmember Donovan and Councilmember Benzian voted against it. In the absence of Sandke’s vote, a 3-1 favorable vote was needed to pass.
The project in question is the Logos College Youth Complex: a two-story youth center with subterranean parking intended for 970 C Avenue at Tenth and C, across from Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church.
The site of the project currently houses 5800 sq. ft of single level office spaces whose tenants include the Coronado Chamber of Commerce. The property last changed hands in 2013 and was recently gifted/designated as the site for a youth center under the direction of Pastor David McElrath of Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church.
Generally speaking, parties for the project justify that a dedicated space is needed for Coronado youth for the purpose of recreation, play, tutoring and ‘hanging out’. Those opposed cite traffic congestion, aesthetics, and disproportionate religious interests. Other concerns raised by residents suggest the intent for the project is not in line with the plans. During the public comment portion of the council meeting, Coronado resident Harold Myers questioned the authenticity of the proposal as a youth center rather than as an assembly hall. “This is not a teen center,” said Myers. “There’s no game room, there’s no fooseball or ping-pong tables, no computer lab or arts and crafts center. It doesn’t meet what I think most teens would want.”
Councilmember Donovan followed Myers presentation with insight as to why he voted against the project: “I think the traffic is definitely going to be an issue,” he says. “I think the size, bulk, and mass of the building seems out of proportion for the surroundings.”
After a comprehensive round of design changes from the initial aspirational “dream big” idea, the plans proposed to the Design Review and Planning Commission on February 12th received the recommendation to move for a city council vote. A favorable city council vote would have green-lighted the project; however, the split-decision has given rise to yet more discussion.
Pastor David McElrath remains committed to the cause, “We were very disappointed in the city council’s response, but we’re not quite ready to ‘toss in the towel’.”
In an effort to sway council members in favor of the project, Pastor McElrath composed a letter further detailing the justification for the project, an excerpt of which cited the recent findings of a Coronado SAFE survey regarding Coronado youth:
A recent study conducted at the high school found 26 students identified as high-risk for suicide, 30 more were deemed at moderate risk for suicide, and one student was immediately hospitalized. For those who are fortunate to have athletic skills, organized sporting opportunities abound (assuming the family has the resources to pay the fees for inclusion). Others take music lessons or engage in other “pay-to-play” activities that keep them busy until Mom and Dad get home. But what about the rest?
McElrath isn’t the only party citing statistics on teen suicide and mental health in Coronado. In a recent letter to the editor, Coronado community member Brad Gerbel also pointed to the Coronado SAFE survey findings and echoed the sentiments of McElrath regarding youth without sporting outlets or other parent-funded activities:
Several people have commented that the library is full of teens after school who are not there to study, they are there because they have nowhere else to go and have to wait there until their parents pick them up. Wouldn’t it be helpful to these kids if they had a safe place to go after school where they could participate in recreational activities, participate in onsite tutoring sessions, and build friendships outside of the classroom?
Next steps for the intended project are still somewhat uncertain. Responses from the council meeting seemed to suggest that the project may be given further consideration if reduced in scale, but public opinion and McElrath’s letter appeal may position the topic for reconsideration without amendments to the plans. Pastor McElrath is hosting a meeting with his congregation on Thursday, May 2nd to determine a course of action in response to the council meeting outcome.
According to Mayor Richard Bailey, it is premature to make any conclusions about the likely outcome of the Logos Youth College project. “Technically the project could still come back in front of the council so it would be inappropriate for me to comment.”