A New Year - a new building?

The Sixth Annual 5K Chilly Chili Run sponsored by the Amity Teen Center drew a record number of participants despite rainy weather - and moved the organization a few steps toward a goal of a new home.

The 500 runners and walkers who trudged through the steady downpour were rewarded for their efforts with steaming hot bowls of nine different types of homemade chili that were served by some of the 50 volunteers. Jacob Marley's, El Torero, Senor Panchos, Jalepino Heaven restaurants, and Tommy Sullivan's Café all donated their highly-prized chili.

In addition to the chili, participants got to munch on some 60-dozen Krispy Kreme donuts, Jasper's gourmet coffee and a wide variety of pastries supplied by Stew Leonard's Dairy Store and Julia's Bakery.

The ATC, founded in 1987, has been homeless since 1996 when its location on Boston Post Road in Orange was razed to build a new firehouse. Since then, the struggling ATC has held weekly events for teens in various locations in Bethany, Orange and Woodbridge.

All three communities were well represented at the race, including Walter and Sarah Briggs of Bethany, former Orange First Selectman Robert Sousa and current First Selectman Mitchell Goldblatt, West Haven Mayor Rich Borer and The Woodbridge Running Company.

The race raised about $7,000, which will be placed in the ATC's building fund.

After several failed attempts to find a new location, the ATC has set its sights on a 9,000-square-foot building on Selden Street in Woodbridge. The site was originally a bowling alley and most recently a jewelry manufacturing plant and showroom.

In November the Woodbridge Plan and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the ATC's proposal to use the Selden Street location.

Because the building was used to manufacture jewelry, which included using hazardous substances, environmental tests are being conducted. A closing date of March 15 has been set. The ATC has a mortgage commitment letter from Prime Bank already in place. Officials estimate they will need $350,000 to clean up the structure, make minor repairs and get the building operational. Additional funds will be needed to build a stage and a gymnasium and other additions.

Major sponsors for this year's race included Vine Product's of West Haven, Jen and Dave Nevas, Stew Leonard's and a pledge from the D'Orso family of Orange in memory of their son Brian, 16, who was killed in November when he was hit by a Metro North train. The money from the pledge will come from funds raised in Brian's memory and are being distributed by The Orange Foundation.

The overall winner of the race was Ryan Pancoast, 19, of Stratford who crossed the finish line in 16 minutes, 31 seconds. The women's winner was Christine Lynch, 35, of Wallingford who finished in 19 minutes and 19 seconds.

The next ATC event, scheduled for Feb. 17, is the Eight Annual Toads Place Benefit, which ATC President Jane Opper said highlights the best of the local area musicians. It will be held at Toads Place in New Haven.

Watch the Bulletin for the announcement of the official kickoff of the building fund drive.