The city's YES program for teen workers will double in size next summer.
Twice as many teens will be hired for the city's Youth Employment Summer program next year, building on a small but successful program that soon could spread statewide, its organizer said Monday.
Tom Wilkerson, assistant director of parks and recreation, said the YES program would employ a dozen at-risk teens in Lawrence for at least eight weeks next summer.
Six 16- to 18-year-olds will build a new picnic shelter at "Dad" Perry Park, at the southeast corner of Monterey Way and Harvard Road, Wilkerson said.
A second crew will follow up with landscaping at the YES program's first completed project, the new shelter at what's become known as Firefighters Park, southwest of 19th Street and Haskell Avenue.
"This program, quite honestly, will not cost you any money," Wilkerson told city commissioners, who gathered for a study session Tuesday afternoon at city hall.
Instead, Hallmark Cards will donate $6,000 to hire a construction instructor and to pay half the salary of a landscape instructor next summer.
A federal jobs program will finance the workers' $5 hourly wages.
All the city must do, Wilkerson said, is contribute the materials and the time of parks and recreation staffers. The shelter at Firefighters Park is only the beginning, with plans for Mary's Lake to begin as early as 1996.
"It's a really good program for the city, because we all get something we can go out and look at," said Commissioner Bob Schulte. "Our summer youth program did this. ... We will have places all over town we can point to."
Commissioner Doug Compton's only wish was for more teens to apply for work. Last year, 90 at-risk teens applied for 30 jobs through the federal Jobs Training Partnership Act; 17 were eligible for the YES program's six spots.
"That's what's frustrating for me: I'd expect 400 kids to apply," Compton said. "That's all we hear every day: We need to create more jobs and opportunities for kids."
Lou Ann Scott, director of Heartland Works (formerly JTPA), said posters and other information would be sent earlier to Lawrence schools this year, with a deadline for applications of early February.
Wilkerson, who worked with several local businesses to start the program, said several organizations were interested in taking the YES approach statewide.
In Lawrence, the program could expand to about 100 teens in five to 10 years, City Manager Mike Wildgen said.