A new youth center called the Red Barn, located in Key Center, is scheduled to open its doors this fall. Organizers of the project hope to see the center remodeling complete in time for the next school year.

Photo by Rodika Tollefson

The youth center will be located just off the Key Peninsula Highway in Key Center in the building known to many as the “the red barn,” hence the name. The three-part building used to house a manufacturing facility for disposable cameras; one wing has been occupied by Communities in Schools of Peninsula for the past few years.

Following an extensive process with Pierce County, the group spearheading the project anticipates to receive permits within the next two months, and hopes to start construction immediately after.

The group, which operates under the auspices of Vaughn Community Church but is an independent entity, has been working on the project for more than two years. The youth center will be open to the community regardless of religious affiliation, and the main focus will be to provide young people a place to hang out after school.

Pete Hedin, the chair of the Red Barn committee, said the center will cater to high school-age youth. A coffee lounge and a gymnasium with a basketball court will be the primary features. Some of the details are still being discussed, including making the center available to other groups for activities. The Boys and Girls Club, which is looking for a facility on the Key Peninsula, has named the Red Barn one of its locations of interest.

Tacoma Band “Jamison” provides entertainment at a youth rally held at the Red Barn in April. Photo by Rodika Tollefson

Hedin said ideas are still being considered, and now that permits are closer to being obtained, more decisions will be made. “We’ll start exploring the options now,” he said.

Construction is expected to cost $60,000, and much of the labor will be volunteer-based. The two buildings the center will occupy under a long-term lease will be gutted and undergo extensive interior work.

The Red Barn committee had previously raised funds from individuals and organizations, but Hedin said all the money was spent on the permitting process due to the many requirements placed by the county.

“We have jumped through all the hurdles… and the county is smiling on us now,” he said. The committee plans to ramp up fundraising efforts to pay for construction and hopes to receive support from businesses and community members. Car washes, garage sales and other efforts may be planned.

The Red Barn youth center will be staffed by volunteers, and Hedin said the hours of operation are still being determined. The goal is to keep the center open after school, with some planned weekend activities such as concerts. In April, the committee organized a youth rally with food and bands “as a heads up” that things are moving along and show the kinds of events that will be staged both indoors and outside.

“It will be a safe place where (youth) can come and visit,” Hedin said.

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