City and county leaders as well as community members broke ground Thursday on the new Avondale Youth and Family Development Center, which will provide recreation and learning opportunities while helping revitalize the area. Dozens of Avondale youth attended the groundbreaking alongside neighborhood leaders and city of Chattanooga and Hamilton County officials.
With the current center dating back to 1949, the new $6 million facility represents a significant investment, which was years in the making, said officials.
“This is an investment in the people of Avondale," said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke to guests at the center on Thursday. "We know that when we invest in people, Chattanooga will be better off in the long run. Because of your talent, somewhere down the line you're going to make our city an even better place.”
The new center will be nearly double in size and include a full gym with bleachers, a softball field, and an improved outdoor basketball court as well as a full-size kitchen, multipurpose room, and learning labs.
“Take advantage of every opportunity that comes through this center,” Councilman Anthony Byrd told youth at Thursday’s groundbreaking. “This investment that we’re doing for you all, we want to see you be very successful. We want to see you have all the dreams, all the things that you could ever want.”
At the groundbreaking, Aaron Crowder, who is a student at McCallie, told the group about his experience at the Avondale YFD Center, the impact it’s had on his life, and his outlook for the new facility.
“This is a new beginning for all of us and all of you too," said Aaron. "You’re going to see that we’re going to grow up, and then our kids are going to be here and then their kids. We can inspire our friends, and then our friends can inspire more, and that’s when the whole community is going to be inspired. I think that this is home basically. Home. An opportunity.”
Plans for the new center were created through input from youth like Aaron as well as neighborhood residents and community leaders who attended multiple public design meetings over the last year.
“We took your input," said Mr. Berke. "We listened to what was important to you, and we are building a center that incorporates your ideas into the design. Now, we're going to have a new center that's designed specifically for your neighborhood. With this center being built, we're going to see more of our mission being realized - to break down the barriers that prevent people from living the life they want in our community.”