The project was funded about three years early

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FARMINGTON — The new teen center at the Boys and Girls Club of Farmington has opened and staff and teens have high praise for the new 2,500 square-foot addition.

The grand opening of the John Oliphant Taco Bell Teen Center was held on May 31 during the Boys and Girls Club Summer Kick Off Street Party.

A Taco Bell food truck served 3,000 free tacos during the event.

Funding for the $622,000 project was scheduled to be raised across a five-year period but funding was generated in a far shorter amount of time of about two years.

It has led the project to open about four years ahead of schedule.

The center is named after Oliphant, who guided the center as CEO for several important years in the late 1990's where a quarter-penny sales tax was enacted to help pay for the $3 million building along Inspire Way, according to current CEO Maria Rodman.

Rodman sought to name the center after Farmington Taco Bell franchisee Marilyn Anderson but Anderson requested the center be named after Oliphant.

Taco Bell was added to the name after the franchisee made a separate $100,000 commitment to fund five years of operations for the center.

"The teens were instrumental in the design of what was going to happen here," Rodman said. "They wanted space where they can be together."

Teens participated in various activities in the new space on June 6. Some teens were enjoying the new patio area where a basketball hoop was set up.

Some sat at counters where garage-style windows were rolled up and let a cool breeze into the center.

Chairs were installed so teens can sit outdoors or indoors at the counters.

Teens were gathered around a TV where four of them were playing Minecraft.

The area used to be an enclosed patio on the south side of the building near Los Ninos Park.

An office for Teen Director Dillon Mason is included along with a conference room for the teens.

Some of the audio/visual equipment has not been installed yet, Mason said.

Two televisions and a stereo system are set to be installed in the immediate future.

"It gives them a space where they are not surrounded by (children) all the time," Director of Development Nikki Taylor said.

About 60 teens per day use the center during weekdays in the summer, according to Mason.

For 12-year-old Mariah Johnson, she spent part of her time at the center on June 6 shooting baskets outside with several other teens.

"I think it's cool and it's a fun way to meet a lot of new kids," Johnson said. "I made five friends already."

Some of the future plans for using the space including organizing teen nights where they focus solely on middle-school or high-school students where the center is open for teens from the community to attend.

"I think it would be great if we could do different stuff and invite the community," Johnson said.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

More: Teen center planned at Boys & Girls Clubs of Farmington

Farmington Boys & Girls Club gym renovations underway

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