Survey: More youth opportunities needed

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Antonio Wetmore, 7, practices his footwork Thursday during American Youth Soccer Organization practice at the AYSO fields. His mother, Victoria Moya, said this is her son’s third year playing and he loves soccer.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

About 500 Clovis residents who recently took part in a survey about youth activities in the city say they would be willing to pay extra taxes to create more opportunities.

Sixty percent said the availability and accessibility of activities for youth in Clovis is low. Eighty-three percent said they would approve a sales tax increase to pay for activities.

The survey by Curry County Wellness Council and the Quality of Life Committee was conducted in March to determine if Clovis residents think the city provides enough activities for youth.

Erinn Burch with the Curry County Wellness Council said she was happy with the results.

“The answers weren’t in the middle, leaving us with vague information,” Burch said Thursday. “Everyone was for or against something.”

Burch said a subcommittee of the Wellness Council began talking about youth development and quickly decided they wanted to bring a Boys and Girls Club of America to Clovis.

Burch said the groups were pleased 83 percent said a tax increase is worth it.

“We hoped that was the case but you never know until you put your neck out there and ask,” she said.

Burch said the results say the area has enough church, school and sports activities.

“This is obviously a topic that folks really wanted to have a chance to tell us what they want,” she said.

One of the questions in the survey asked if the city needs an expanded recreation department or a add Boys and Girls Club. Sixty percent chose both.

“What I heard is that this is important and we need a big time investment in this area,” Burch said.

Andrea Bell with the council said the survey is taking the guesswork out of developing services for youth.

“Now we know what they think we need and are lacking,” she said.

Burch said the council and city are still in the learning phase. The groups are planning a trip to Hobbs next week to visit the city’s Boys and Girls Club and teen center.

She also said the Quality of Life committee is planning to work on a legislative package to request the tax increase in January.

Even with a tax increase, Burch said money won’t be flowing until January 2012.

“A Boys and Girls Club needs a board and a place,” she said. “A non-profit doesn’t grow out of nothing. The community is going to respond better to this kind of fund request if they can see the location.”

Burch said even if it takes two years, it needs to happen.

“We’ve got to do this. We’ve got to solve the problem for the future,” Burch said.