Edgerton youth center relocating to vacant downtown building
To learn more about the Non-Toxic Teen Center, go online to nontoxicteencenter.com.
To help with renovations at the youth center's new Fulton Street location or to learn how to donate to the center, email email@example.com or call (608) 751-6101.
EDGERTON While walking around the first floor of the former Swift Block building in downtown Edgerton, Dave Flood warned a reporter to watch his step.
A network of plywood and planks covered a floor stripped to the beams—a cavernous, 4,000-square-foot space broken up only by a heavy brick wall in the middle. Unfinished ductwork, wiring and loose ceiling tiles dangled from the high ceilings. It was dark except for light filtering through the glass door.
It looked rough, but the building at 204 W. Fulton St.—which is as old as downtown Edgerton and once housed a general store and later Wileman's department store—is being reborn.
The circa-1850s building soon will be the new home of the Non-Toxic Teen Center.
The center, a nonprofit group, bought the vacant, three-story building this year and is renovating it with plans to be open by April 6.
That's the goal, anyway.
"You've got to have ambitious goals, or you're not going to get anything done," Flood said.
Flood leads the center that's offered after-school and weekend youth activities at various Edgerton locations since 1993.
The youth center has been in rented space at 512 N. Main St. for almost 20 years.
Flood said the center's lease there ran out in December, and the center's board of directors decided it needed space to grow.
When the board learned in December it could buy the building, it jumped at the chance, Flood said. He said the new location would give the youth center a more prominent location and a chance to grow.
Plans at the new center include a computer area, a dance floor, a stage for bands and theatrical performances, a coffee-lounge-style seating area where youths can have soda and snacks and an area for billiards and other games.
The building has space in the back for a shop for kids to learn mechanics and work on ATVs that the youth center uses at the summer camp it owns near Ladysmith, Flood said.
Flood, who works at local manufacturer Edgerton Gear, said several of his coworkers say they would volunteer their time to teach mechanics at the youth center.
Youth center officials must wait for the state and the city's architect to approve plans before major construction work can start, but Flood said city officials—including the downtown Redevelopment Authority—have embraced the plan.
The building was last used as a resale mall and a photography studio. In recent years, it fell into disrepair.
"Everybody has been really excited that we're doing this," Flood said. "The place has been vacant a while. It's the ugliest building in town, and nobody wants it to be that way anymore."
All it's going to take is $50,000 in renovations.
Volunteers have started some work at the building, but still needed are new flooring throughout the first floor, heating and electrical work, insulation and drywall on an outside wall.
The building also needs handicap-accessible restrooms and a new stairway to the second and third floors, which won't immediately be used, Flood said.
The youth center plans to replace windows, repair and paint the building's brick exterior, and renovate its ground-level façade.
The Edgerton City Council approved four small-scale development grants totaling $12,000 for renovations at the center. The center plans to use that money partly to offset costs of materials.
Much of the labor for renovations will be donated, including some of the plumbing and electrical work, Flood said.
The youth center has started a fundraising campaign for the work, and already it has donations for material and other items, including lights and sound equipment for the stage and dance floor, Flood said.
He said the Non-Toxic Teen Center hopes its new location on Fulton Street will put the spotlight back on a building that was a hive of community activity when it was a general store and a department store.
"This place was once a hotspot—the place to be," Flood said. "We think it can be that way again, only in a different way."