New Haven Youth Center re-opens

The 'Barbell,' in the New Haven Hill neighborhood is re-opening.
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 7:05 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) - A New Haven Youth Center was given a second chance to impact many others now as it did in the past.

According to those who grew up in New Haven’s Hill neighborhood, the youth center will have the potential to make a difference for a new generation.

The youth center was one of many investments the Elm City made in its youth.

The Hill Cooperative Youth Services building better known as ‘The Barbell’ to those who grew up in the neighborhood was a place for kids to gather after school and hang out during the summer.

After 14 years, the city decided to bring ‘The Barbell’ back.

Gerald Nelson who grew up in the area when the center was up and running said, “I don’t even know the history of the name. I never knew why they called it the Barbell Club, but it was our Barbell Club. We loved it.”

For Gerald Nelson, growing up in New Haven’s Hill neighborhood in the 80s was the spot.

“This place was everything to a lot of kids in this neighborhood, as far as somewhere to go, people to speak to, older adults, and giving kids guidance. It was a great place,” Nelson said.

Unfortunately, the place that was booming for after school activities and summer camps, closed in 2008.

The old Hill Cooperative Youth Services building in Trowbridge Square was rundown and dilapidated for years after.

New Haven Mayor, Justin Elicker said, “one of the most frequent requests from residents that I hear was we’ve got to do more for our youth. We’ve got to have more youth programs, more places for youth to go looking for mentors and looking for something fun to do.”

Recently, New Haven’s Board of Alders approved accepting a one point five-million-dollar state grant to rebuild and re-open ‘The Barbell.’

Along with the substantial amount of money put into renovating the youth program, the Elm City also put 750 thousand in American Rescue Plan funding as well in regard to East Rock, Edgewood and Lighthouse Point Parks.

Mayor Elicker said, “we’re hoping to start the construction of that this coming year. There was some environmental cleanup that we need to do, and we’re also engaging the community about what we want to see at that site and that’s just one example.”

In addition to opening youth and family centers around the city, New Haven was also using state and federal money to put in a turf field and track at Wilbur Cross High School.

These improvements will happen along with improvements toward Rice field and Blake field in the East Rock neighborhood.

As for his old childhood hangout, Gerald knows what this can mean for a new generation.

“It would be great for the kids,” Gerald said. “For years, I basically grew up in this place, learned teamwork, and how to get along well with others. It will be very socially helpful for kids especially with every kid being attached to a phone these days.”

The ‘Barbell’ will now have a chance to make a long-lasting impact on today’s youth as it did so many years ago.