AUBURN — A Police Activities League-monitored youth center could be the right fit for the  9.8 acres of park space on either side of Chestnut Street, city officials said.

Police Chief Phil Crowell said he’s looking for volunteers to help investigate using the old Pathways Inc. child care center as a downtown youth center. It would be managed by a Auburn Police Activities League.

“I see it as a creative center to provide activities for kids after school and during the summer,” Crowell said. He’d like to enlist help from the two Auburn Police labor unions as well as the Police Explorers program.

“We would probably do athletics, but I think we would do it in a way that supports the city’s recreation programs,” Crowell said. “Maybe we would field a football team for the city’s football program. But it would be much more than that.”

Crowell said he currently is looking for volunteers to serve on a citizens’ advisory board. That board would apply to the national Police Athletics/Activities League organization to establish an Auburn chapter. All activities the group offers would be paid for with member fundraising.

Crowell said the plan is to use the old Pathways building as a headquarters. The city began looking for new uses for that building and the surrounding parks in June.

It includes two areas. The first is the 7 acres that begin  south of Dennison Street and continues to Chestnut Street. It contains an athletic field and the building.

The second, about 2.8 acres, begins on the other side of Chestnut Street and continues to the Union Street bypass. It has three basketball courts and a tennis court.

The park was used by students at the Webster Intermediate School until it closed in 2006.  The building has been vacant for about a year.

Crowell said it makes sense to use the area to benefit downtown Auburn youth. The square mile around the parks represents about 1 percent of the city area. Of all crimes committed by youth, 23 percent occur in that square mile.

“The numbers tell us this is an area that needs a special focus,” Crowell said. “I think an activities league would be the vehicle to really bring that together.”

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