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Local Matters: Middle schoolers mobilize to save downtown video gaming lounge

BURLINGTON - Is it "game over" for Algebars? Not if Maxx Vick and his friends have anything to say about it.

Vick, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Edmunds Middle School, is one of a group of students trying to keep the popular Church Street video gaming lounge open. Several weeks ago, Vick and his friends got word that Algebars plans to close its doors on September 30. After two years in the business, co-owner Lauran Burrell says the expense of leasing the second-floor retail space, as well as difficulties with the landlord, have "proved to be our undoing."

"Ross [Burrell's partner] and I have taken two mortgages out on our home and had made up the $5000 per month deficit for two years," she tells Seven Days. "We're broke. We can't do it anymore." According to Burrell, the majority of their customers are between the ages of 12 and 21.

But for Vick and his friends, Algebars is more than just a place to spend several hours playing "World of Warcraft" and "Counter-Strike: Source." It also keeps them off the streets and out of trouble. As a result, Vick and his friend Cormac Chesbrough have begun circulating a petition to ask City Council for its help in securing a grant to keep Algebars open as a community youth center. Thus far, the teens have collected more than 500 signatures from their friends and are shooting for more than 1000.

"I've never done something like this before," Vick admits. "But it just seems like a really important place to me, and the fact that the owners are doing so much for the kids in the community, it'd be a shame to see the place close down."

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About The Author

Ken Picard

Ken Picard

Bio:
Ken Picard has been a Seven Days staff writer since 2002. He has won numerous awards for his work, including the Vermont Press Association's 2005 Mavis Doyle award, a general excellence prize for reporters.

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