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Ketley: 'Another Strong Year' for Trackside

The teen center and town facility is once again coming in with a flat budget request, according to Mark Ketley, the executive director of Trackside.

Things are looking up for Trackside.

Mark Ketley, the teen center’s executive director, updated the Board of Selectmen Monday night about progress made at Trackside over the past year.

“We’ve had another strong year we’re very excited about and proud of,” Ketley said.

Ketley said the teen center is once again asking for a flat budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Trackside hasn’t asked for a budget increase since 2009-2010, Ketley said.

“Expenses have gone up, but we’re doing more with less,” he said. “We understand our obligation to continue to manage our budget responsibly.”

In addition to the flat budget—which comes in at $143,963—Ketley said attendance is up at Trackside—both for teens and for community groups.

“Our drop-ins have risen dramatically,” he said. “The numbers have been going up every month of the school year and this past January we had 144 drop-ins, the most we ever had there.”

In 2012, 4,700 teens used the center, and 5,800 people from the community attended the facility for various board meetings, fund-raising activities and other special events.

“When the teens aren’t there, we want someone to be in the building,” Ketley said. But “it’s a teen center first—we understand that.”

First Selectman William Brennan said he’s happy to see the progress Trackside’s made over the last few years.

“We’ve certainly been pleased, since the change of leadership and the change of the direction of the teen center,” he said. “We had an underutilized facility a few years ago.  [Now], we’re using the facility as it was originally planned [to be used]. Before, we were really getting close to pulling the plug on it.”

Ketley said the teen center has a strategic planning group, chaired by Police Chief Michael Lombardo, which is aiming to address what needs they feel the town still has. The group will look for what’s missing and figure out how to make that happen at Trackside.

Trackside is also trying to put together a major new fall fundraiser, while continuing to apply for grants.

“We’re constantly trying to raise more funds,” Ketley said. “We’re controlling our expenses pretty well. We have no debt. Our bills are paid. We have money in the bank, and at the end of the year, we’ll have a positive variance.”

Cliff Cuming February 05, 2013 at 11:44 AM
Flat budgets encourage innovative funding and/or spending controls. I am certain comparable results would occur if a flat budget were applied to all town departments. Trouble is, town management is not up to the task. They don't have the skills and voters fail to insist on it under the mistaken belief they are getting more services for each dollar increase.
Stop wasting money on Trackside February 05, 2013 at 01:45 PM
The original agreement with trackside was that the town would provide the land and that trackside would be self funding. The town should not be giving any money to trackside. I do not know one teen who uses trackside. The only purpose trackside serves is to be the hobby of a few parents helping them to feel good that they are doing something for the teens in town when in reality no teens use it. The majority of the time the center is used by various organizations to hold their meetings. the library and Comstock have meeting spaces that can be used. There is no reason to keep throwing money at trackside. Let it support itself or let it die.
EMR February 05, 2013 at 02:00 PM
The Town of Wilton Hobby Commission is at it again. Trackside should ask for grant money from United Way, not Wilton taxpayers.
No to Trackside February 05, 2013 at 02:28 PM
For all those people who think we should continue to waste money on trackside, let me ask you this. How many teens do you know who use trackside as a teen center on a regular basis? I don't mean go to trackside as part of an organizations meeting, or go to trackside as part of drivers ed, or go to trackside a couple of times a year when they hold their battle of the bands or DJ parties, all of these can be held at other town owned facilities such as the schools, library, Comstock. I am willing to bet that these uses are where the majority of the 4700 number came from. I mean how many of you actually know teens who go to trackside week after week on a regular basis to use it as a teen center? I do not know of a single teen in town who does. And for those few who do, why shouldn't they pay their own way rather than have the taxpayers fund their hangout?
WT February 05, 2013 at 02:51 PM
Adam-Since "town management is not up to the task" and you are so certain about everything troubling this town, why don't you run for public office and become part of the solution?
EMR February 05, 2013 at 03:58 PM
Trackside taking lazy way out. Why are Wilton taxpayers supporting non-profits? Who the heck is in charge of fund development?
White Fang February 05, 2013 at 06:38 PM
We should have realized this before it was built. Asked anyone in any other town ( Darien ) if the kids use the teen center..and the answer is NO. Not that it's a bad idea mind you, it's just that these things with teens have an image probelm..to them this stuff is simply uncool so they don't go. Canasta anyone ?
Cut trackside out of the budget February 05, 2013 at 07:45 PM
Many people in town said not to build it because of the concerns that no teens would use it. That is why the agreement was made with the town that if the town donated the land, trackside would be self funding. That is why the town voted to go ahead with it figuring that if it was a bust it would not cost the town anything other than the land which was not being used for anything anyway. Then when no teens showed up and they did not get the revenue they expected to get, they asked the town for money. And here we are today, paying for something no one uses.
Alethiologist February 05, 2013 at 10:22 PM
But remember this is the "me too town" If they have it, it must be great! Fiber optic anyone?
firebird400 February 12, 2013 at 03:35 PM
The largest part of our town budget is the schools. They are touted as one of the main reasons we are told that familys move to the town. I do not believe Trackside is a draw for people to move to Wilton, any more than the proposed fiber optic network network would be. On Trackside, if someone wants it, fund it from donations, both corporate and local residents, but stop taking $ in taxes out of our pockets for the benefit of the minority of uses. Also stop this "fiber optic' plan. It may be good for 50 story officr buildings in NYC, but for the few miles of connections here in Wilton How many times have residents been told that the investment will be self sustaining???. All these projects cost money that is better spent on our largest cost,education, which may help it to cover it's questionable increases.

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