September 5, 2017

Teens Study City PlanningThe twenty-one students in the city planning summer program held at Passaic County Community College have walked past the Fabian Theater in Paterson hundreds of times, but this August they looked at it from a different prescriptive – that of city planners looking to adapt the building for re-use.

When the teens began the two week summer program, most didn't know what city planning is, or what that career entails. Over the two weeks, the youth gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and skills, including community and economic development, transportation planning, environmental planning, community outreach, collaboration, innovation, and public speaking.

Teens Study City PlanningThe program, which ran for the first time, was funded by NJCDC, Valley National Bank, and the American Planning Association. More than thirty city planners from throughout New Jersey also contributed and the initiative was also supported by Passaic County Community College and the Paterson and Passaic Boards of Education.

Teens Study City PlanningOn August 18, the students gathered at NJCDC's Rogers Meeting Center to present their plan for the Fabian Theater. Addressing the students before they delivered their presentation, Deborah Schulze, the lead instructor of the program, said, "You have met and exceeded every expectation that we had of this program. You worked really, really hard over the last two weeks and came out with an end product that most planners would take months to put together. You walked away with an understanding of how to look at communities differently, how to evaluate your neighborhood critically, and how to empower yourself and others to create changes in your own neighborhoods. I know you will carry this mindset with you in your future careers."

The students then began their presentation by emphasizing Paterson's rich history and describing the site of the old Fabian Theater. As it stands now, the building's first floor is boarded up, it has broken windows, it's littered with garbage, and the buildings surrounding it are mainly vacant or available for rent.

Teens Study City PlanningThe youth then launched into their vision for the site: the Wentworth Plaza, a nine-story extension of Passaic County Community College that would have a theater, a theater arts program with studio and rehearsal spaces, a museum, a greenhouse, a pedestrian plaza, a youth recreation center, a fitness center with pools, and more. For more than half an hour, the students took turns delivering an extensive and eloquent presentation that went into great detail on each feature of the building.

NJCDC's CEO Bob Guarasci said, "We were thrilled to support this two week summer program that taught Paterson youth about community development, city planning, and more. We're extremely proud of the students' plan for the Fabian Theater and their desire to build a better community."

Support Our Work!
We at NJCDC are keenly aware of the challenging economic times. 93 cents of every dollar donated to NJCDC goes directly to programs which help families, teens, children and people with disabilities.