Trackside asked to re-evaluate needs

Trackside Teen Center is a nonprofit entity, but the building and the land are town-owned.

The fiscal year 2017 town budget has $154,000 appropriated to the center for operating expenses, but the first selectman appears to be reconsidering that support as she looks ahead to the next financial cycle.

At the May 16 meeting of the Board of Selectmen, Mark Ketley, executive director of Trackside, gave selectmen a report on the success of the teen center.

He said that some of the more popular activities for teens include gaming tournaments, college entrance workshops, and dances.

Most of the revenue, according to Ketley, comes from corporate rentals and functions like bar mitzvahs.

Ketley said one of the best things about Trackside is the Safe Rides program.

He said there are 130 student volunteers and that the program is a model for other towns, because the space at Trackside is larger and more versatile than other towns' Safe Rides headquarters.

Other events held at Trackside, Ketley said, include the Wilton police annual awards ceremony, the Wilton High School football team's Thanksgiving game breakfast, the Wilton Fire Department's children's Christmas party, and Parks and Recreation summer camps.

After he was done speaking, First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice said, "We're going to be facing a more difficult budget season next year."

She said the town can safely expect "more cuts in municipal aid," so it's time to plan ahead, according to her.

Therefore, she asked Ketley to tighten the purse strings on Trackside, if possible.

"I'd like to challenge your board," Vanderslice said, "to try to reduce the amount of money you need from the town."

"We'd be happy to do that," said Ketley.