“It’s a coincidence,” says Mertens. The building has been empty for five years. “Because of the publicity surrounding the youth center, the space also attracted attention. I think that was a factor.”
Give it a chance for a year
But are things now in danger? Despite the interest, Mertens believes that things will still be going well. “We’d like to give it a year. As a kind of pilot project,” he explains. “So we hope there will be companies who want to take care of us. The municipality will also look at opportunities.”
The new center is run by the El Padrino Foundation, whose face is Meertens. He was tired of being disturbed in the neighborhood and wanted to offer young people an alternative to hanging out in the street. He said, “We used to have a club or a hut where we could meet, nowadays you don’t see it anymore.” “This initiative was born from it.”
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In the center there will be pool tables, a playstation, a panna cage and a bar where young people can buy drinks and non-alcoholic snacks. According to Mertens, there is room for about one hundred to one hundred and fifty visitors, but he first wants to start with fifty to sixty young men.
The local people matter. They fear young people will cause the same inconvenience that happened last year in the densely populated part of Kloosterveen. The Ina Terpstra neighborhood workers want to calm this concern. “I understand the local people very well, but this is being thought out very carefully. Measures will be taken to ensure this inconvenience is kept under control as much as possible.”