Town Council: New Outback Board ‘Likely To Happen’; Facility, Nonprofit Status To Transition


The Outback Teen Center soon will operate under a new board of directors that will include some founding members of the organization, officials said Wednesday night.

Thanking the current Outback directors for their “efforts and hard work and dedication,” Town Council Chairman Bill Walbert said during a special meeting that the organization long has been “playing a game where the rules [make it] difficult for you to win” and “can be very frustrating.”

Recently, Wallbert said, the existing board verbally approved a change that will see New Canaan’s Bob Albus and Catharine Sturgess come on with some others, then for the “existing board members to resign, creating what in essence is a temporary—not a temporary, but a transitional board, if you will—that will maintain, most importantly, the 501(c)(3) so that does not go away.”

“And then negotiate on behalf of the building with other organizations in town, potentially the town itself, but basically have a group of people who are not burdened by the existing rules, do not have to worry about the programming and such today but can act on the best behalf of that 501(c)(3) and act on the best behalf of that building and transition the Teen Center to its next use to serve the youth in the community,” Walbert said at the meeting, held in the Community Room at the New Canaan Nature Center. “So we worked aggressively toward that, we think that is going to happen, and I want to report to you that that is likely to happen.”

With a lease termination proposal in hand from the Outback board, First Selectman Rob Mallozzi last week indicated that the change could come soon. It will close one chapter for the Outback and start another.

Facing a far different atmosphere today than it did when starting out 15 years ago—both in terms of programs offered to New Canaan youth and private funding—the Outback’s leadership had sought to forge a partnership with the town that would see New Canaan subsidize and staff the facility.

The arrangement never materialized, and 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.

It isn’t clear just what types of programs the “new” Outback will offer or what local organizations may seek to use the facility.

“There are still plenty of things that have to be done very quickly because they [the existing board members] are running out of money, virtually out of money, so things have to happen quickly and we are teaming up to make them happen,” Walbert said.

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