Skip to content

Calistoga City Council returns $40k to Teen Center

Calistoga’s City Council has reversed course and reinstated $40,000 for the Boys and Girls Club Teen Center into its new budget.

More than 200 concerned citizens filled the Calistoga Community Center on Tuesday to protest the city council’s decision to withdraw city funding to the Teen Center. (Photo: Danielle Wilde)

Calistoga’s City Council has reversed course and reinstated $40,000 for the Boys and Girls Club Teen Center into its new budget.

The decision was made Tuesday following weeks of community backlash and record turnout at a May 21 meeting, where dozens upon dozens of residents and youth center supporters besieged the council to reconsider the funding cut. 

“I’m very pleased to have the $40,000 restored to the Teen Center budget,” Councilmember Kevin Eisenberg, former Calistoga High School principal, said at Tuesday’s city council meeting. “All my feelings about this are based on my experiences at the Teen Center, watching students, knowing students who have participated.” 

Eisenberg also suggested at the meeting that, to avoid this type of controversy in the future, the council not single out specific nonprofits if it needs to cut funding.

“In the future, I guess I would like to have all of our subsidies of our nonprofits be looked at together, and maybe there would be a percentage reduction if we need more money for our city needs,” he said. “I think it's problematic to look at any one of them in isolation.”

Under terms of a new contract, the Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Helena and Calistoga, which operates the Calistoga Teen Center, will continue to lease the Monhoff building for $1 annually, just as it has for the past 20 years. 

The only difference in the contract: the Boys and Girls Clubs will now split the monthly utility costs for the building – which also houses a Parks and Recreation office, two racquetball courts and two public restrooms. Until now, the city has paid the full utility bill, which was roughly $17,000 in 2023. 

Councilmembers Eisenberg and Lisa Gift both proposed at Tuesday’s meeting that the city foot the cost of the utilities before Mayor Donald Williams suggested, and the council agreed, that the Boys and Girls Clubs could apply for one of the city’s Community Enrichment Grants to pay its half. The council gives the grants out annually to local non-profit organizations and groups that apply and can show that their work benefits the community. This year there is just over $30,000, in the CEG fund.

Boys and Girls Clubs Executive Director Trent Yaconelli thanked the council for its time and said that the display seen at the May meeting, where more than 200 community members showed up and gave 90 minutes of public comment in support of the Teen Center, was “a community learning to speak out for the things they care about.”

“One of the things we said to the kids is, ‘If you care about the Teen Center, and you want your voices heard, then show up,’” Yaconelli said. “That’s what city council’s all about. That’s what democracy is all about. They showed up in numbers to say that the Club matters to them.”

The Teen Center currently serves more than 100 Calistoga teens, roughly 38 percent of the Calistoga Junior/Senior High School student population. Last year, the Boys and Girls Clubs raised $350,000 to support the Teen Center, which in addition to offering a safe, social space for kids to gather, also provides homework help and tutoring, access to mental health services, retreats, career counseling and college tours.