On Wednesday evening, Nov. 29, a petition entitled “Wesleyan Administration: Support a Community Center at 51 Green Street” by May Klug ’19, was shared via Facebook to address concerns over the future of the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center.
“I’ve been hearing rumors in the community that the city is considering moving St. Vincent’s soup kitchen to the Green Street space in an attempt to push the homeless community off of Main St,” Klug’s Facebook post reads. “I’ve also heard they might be opening a satellite police station. More police surveillance and activity is not what the North End needs.”
After the University decided to shut down the center this past summer, many in the Middletown and Wesleyan communities have worried about the building’s future occupants and the legacy of the center’s programs. While St. Vincent may be gearing up to submit a proposal for the space, the city has not yet made any formal agreements with an entity.
Klug’s post goes on to advocate for a community center in Middletown and urges that the University support efforts to start a new one. A letter addressed to Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78, which is attached to the petition, speaks to this.
“As members of the Middletown community, including Wesleyan students and staff, we believe that the space on 51 Green St, current site of the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center, is a vital location for a community center in Middletown,” the letter states. “We have heard about the proposal within the city government to move St. Vincent’s soup kitchen into the space. We have also heard that the city is considering opening a new satellite police station there. We do not believe that either of these ideas are beneficial to the community in the same way that Green Street was, and are an inefficient use of a valuable space.”
The letter goes on to reiterate and expand upon Klug’s Facebook post.
“We’ve also heard of proposals from within our community to start a new community center program,” the letter reads. “We think this would be a much better use of the location, and would provide a necessary resource to the entire Middletown community, including Wesleyan. With this in mind, we would like to encourage you to support community-oriented uses of the space, and potentially sponsor proposals that further this goal of a community center.”
In a message to The Argus, Klug addressed the petition to the University, which played an integral role in the center’s founding back in 2005 as one of the initial three partners alongside the city and the North End Action Team.
“I would like to encourage the administration to listen to these feelings and support plans that use the space as a community resource instead of moving an already existing community resource or opening a new police station or a business, neither of which would serve the community’s needs as much as a community center,” Klug wrote to The Argus.
The petition is available online and, as of Thursday evening, over 150 people have signed.
Emmet Teran contributed to this reporting.