Expanded Teen Offerings, New Board Possible for Restructured Outback


Though a proposed lease termination agreement from the Outback Teen Center now is in hand, town officials say they’re investigating whether the downtown facility could continue to serve local youth in important ways.

First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said Town Council Chairman Bill Walbert and Outback’s founding president Bob Albus are leading an effort to “advance ways to keep a reconstituted teen offering from that building and from a new Board of Directors that could be in place in the next few months.”

One local organization that already is serving much of New Canaan’s youth—the YMCA—could possibly use the building in the future, a move that could offset costs that after July 31 would otherwise fall to the town, he said.

Asked about the YMCA’s interest in operating any programs out of the Outback, the Y’s vice president of financial development, marketing, and strategic initiatives, Kristina Barrett, said: “The Outback Board and town have approached the Y to see if we are interested in using the facility for a variety of Y programming. If Outback programming comes to an end, we are open to exploring this possibility, however, nothing has been finalized.”

Outback’s programming is set to come to an end officially after July 31, as per a letter that Mallozzi received last Friday from the teen center’s Board of Directors President Sangeeta Appel.

“The Board of Directors of New Canaan Teen Center, Inc., voted to vacate and turn over possession of the teen center building to the Town of New Canaan effective as of 11:59 p.m. on July 31, 2015,” the letter says. “While the Board regrets the necessity for this action, it had no other viable option given the current lack of funds and absence of sufficient recurring annual financial support from the Town and the community, with which to operate the building. The Board hopes the Town will continue to make the building available for use by New Canaan teens and the community as there clearly is a need for such uses as demonstrated by the thousands of visits to the building since its opening over 14 years ago.”

A proposed lease termination agreement accompanies the letter. Appel could not immediately be reached for comment.

Despite fundraising and other efforts lauded by the town, the Outback has been unable to generate the revenue needed to afford long-term the building’s utilities and staffing costs. After a proposal from the Outback Board of Directors that the town operate it jointly at a cost of about $83,000 did not develop, the board last month indicated that the facility, which sits on a centrally located parcel of town property on a nominal 25-year lease, would revert to New Canaan this summer.

One key figure in the Outback’s creation and development, town resident Bob Albus, said he is re-involving himself now in the building’s use and future because he feels responsible to those who supported its creation many years ago.

“When it became apparent that the ability to run the facility on a sustainable basis was not happening, I expressed my interest to get re-involved in the sense of shepherding how the facility might be used in the future, feeling as though I have a responsibility to the people that committed $2.2 million to build the facility way back in the beginning,” Albus said.

“I feel a responsibility to preserve and maintain the mission statement that we set out with 15 years ago when we first started the Teen Center. So I have gotten re-involved to assist where I can to ensure that the facility is maintained for use of the teens, as was originally intended. And also in recognition that the need for having a facility that teens can access is as important—if not more important—today than it was 15 years ago.”

One thought on “Expanded Teen Offerings, New Board Possible for Restructured Outback

  1. Big thanks to Outback founding member Bob Albus who is working hard to keep the Outback alive. Private funds alone will not do it.

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