Task Force Examines Youth in the Loop Senior and Youth Task Force looked at issues with area

youth in the Loop Business District

University City There was plenty of discussion of University City s youth population in Thursday night s Seniors and Youth Task Force meeting. The Senior and Youth Task Force was created by University City Mayor Shelley Welsch to determine assets that exist in within University City and examine the needs of each group that are currently not being met or fulfilled by the existing assets available, the agenda summarized. The major issue came up at the February 10 meeting of the group, where Joe Edwards, owner of Blueberry Hill and Patrick Liberto, owner of the Meshuggah Café addressed the issue of youths in The Loop and the curfew. Edwards and Liberto both noted at that meeting not all kids who come from the loop live in University City the meeting notes distributed at Thursday say. Concerns center on a small percentage of youths that are disruptive the environment, and how that gives The Loop a negative perception by patrons. Liberto felt that youths have no place to go, with malls discouraging their patronage. The Loop is attractive, he said, because there are clothing and music stores, and salons, with a number catering to younger people. The task force asked Liberto if he had any recommendations, and he suggested that getting kids involved in activities, such as theatre or sports, according to the minutes. Edward stated that curfew was originally 10pm, and the later made earlier, to 9pm. The curfew is in force for youths 16-years-old or younger. A few of the arrests, Edwards said, were of kids who live north of Interstate 70, and who were in the age range of 17 to 19. Edwards also said that The Loop was more dangerous for kids after 9pm. Thursday s guest speakers which included Associate Professor of Social Work Dr. Jack Kirkland of Washington University in St. Louis, and Jason Baucom of the Parks and Recreation Department. You really can't stop young people from going or being where they want to be. That's a terrible dilemma, Kirkland said in his remarks. Kirkland suggested the idea of observing, rather than watch. Assigning concerned citizens, for example about 100 people, to observe youths, to serve as a deterrent for the behavior that Liberto and Edwards talked about at the February 10 meeting. Jen Jensen, one of the task force members suggested bringing back the neighborhood watch. Beverly Sporleder, MSW, one of the attendees suggested the idea of having corners where youths could engage in creative activities, as well as community art schools.

Another issue addressed dealt with youths not utilizing the Centennial Commons. Jason Baucom mentioned that the Centennial Commons requires a resident or nonresident ID to use the Commons, and the costs vary. He also added that the Commons has tried many approaches to get youths into the Commons, but concedes that it has been difficult. After the speakers, there was discussion about the survey they are planning to distribute, and how the collection process would work. Clayton Ware of the Adult Education suggested the idea of Using Survey Monkey, a popular online survey software for collection. Afterwards the task force approved the meeting minutes from January 6 and February 10, and adjourned. The next task force meeting is scheduled for April 4 at 6:30 in the EOC Room of City Hall.

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