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Teen Center Study fails to gain funding

A budget amendment to reinstate $40,000 in funding for the third part of a study on the potential construction of the Teen Center in northwest Fitchburg failed at the Common Council’s Tuesday, Nov. 1 meeting.

The third part would have outlined the structure of the project, including: recommendations for organizations to be allowed to operate in the space, a tenant and rental structure, the proposed cost and size for the center and mechanisms for subsidizing costs through grants.

Mayor Aaron Richardson and District 2 Alder Jay Allen were the first to cite logistical concerns as their reasoning for voting against the proposed amendment, but emphasized that they ultimately support the Teen Center and plan to move forward with it in the future.

“Basically what we’re trying to do here with this amendment is to amend the TID [Tax Incremental Districts] plan without having the TID plan in front of us,” Allen said. “I’m going to vote no on this amendment, but don’t mistake that for a lack of support on this project.”

Allen’s fellow District 2 Alder Gabriella Gerhardt disagreed with Allen and Richardson on their hesitations. “If we all support this, all support this study, I see no reason why we shouldn’t pass this tonight,” she said. “And I think it does send a very, very bad message to the community–and it’s a confusing message to the community–when we vote no on things like this.”

Fourteen residents registered to speak in support of the amendment. Others sent emails and videos in support. A third of the total comments were from young people themselves, Gerhardt said.

“We’re setting expectations that we don’t know if we can meet,” District 4 Alder Jim Wheeler said when explaining why his desire for further collaboration and planning led him to vote no . “There’s a reality that we’re going to have to hit… Unfulfilled expectations lead to distrust in government… We’ve got to let the public know that we support it but we shouldn’t just go willy-nilly and say, ‘Well, just do it because we’re going to have a symbolic vote.’”

When it came to a council member vote, four voted in favor and four voted in opposition to providing funding for the study in the 2023 budget. Richardson broke the tie by voting no, leading to the amendment’s failure.

Solid waste collection rates increase

The Fitchburg Common Council approved a solid waste management plan that sees an increase in costs per household at their Tuesday, Oct. 25 meeting.

The recommended rates were an increase from $215 per household/year to $228 per household/year. For apartments and condominium units, rates increased from $6.75 to $7. Levels of service–weekly garbage collection, bi-weekly recycling collections, 4 yearly yard-waste collections and 14 yearly brush collections–remain the same.

It was approved unanimously by the council.

Contact reporter Alisyn Amant at

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