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Teen center expects to rent new building Monthly dances too big for available space


Members of the newly incorporated Greater Elkridge Teen Center -- a coalition of local church members, organizations and residents aiming to open a full-time recreation center -- say they may have a building to lease by January.

The group is considering leasing space in one of two buildings, but declined to give details because negotiations are still in the preliminary stages, said the Rev. Michael Russell of Grace Episcopal Church in Elkridge.

Planning for the future, members of the coalition met Wednesday to expand their organizing committee and investigate other youth-oriented activities for the teen center besides the current monthly dances.

During the past five years, middle-school dances outgrew space at the parish hall of Grace Episcopal.

Dances for middle- and high-school students were moved to the Elkridge Fire Department's community hall, but 35 students recently were turned away from that larger facility because of crowding. The dances typically draw 220 to 300 teens who pay $5 each to attend.

"The [leased] center will pay for itself if 300 teen-agers pay $5 to attend each of two middle- and two high- school dances a month," Mr. Russell said.

Besides Howard County teen-agers, students from Anne Arundel and Carroll counties also attend the dances. "The fact that we have drawn regionally for these events speaks to the need of a teen center," he said.

The proposed center could feature a basketball court, snack bar, study area with computers and perhaps a music store where teens could purchase compact discs and cassettes.

The next planning meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m. Nov. 8 at Elkridge Landing Middle School.

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