The Penobscot Bay YMCA and the Teen Center will join forces, now that both boards of directors have endorsed the merger.

The merger is to take place March 31, and on April 1, the YMCA will assume operations of the Teen Center, maintaining the same programs and activities already in place. The name will remain the Teen Center, as it has been since the facility was created in 1995 on Lion’s Lane in Camden through the efforts of local citizens.

The merger announced March 2 comes after a few years of discussing the idea of combining with the YMCA.

“The Teen Center and the Y have always been allies,” said Teen Center Director Marcia Roberts. “We are establishing closer ties.”

Operations at the Teen Center are to remain status quo, said Roberts.

A public meeting for all interested parents, students and community members will be held Monday, March 8 at the Teen Center to discuss the implications of the merger. The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m.

The Teen Center employs six part-time personnel to work with students after school, and Roberts will remain at the center through the transition. She will eventually move over to the YMCA on Union Street, where she will become the development and marketing director. The Teen Center is currently seeking a program director.

The merger will enable the two organizations, which have parallel missions to serve youth in the region, to continue their respective programs, according to a news release. The merger will also ensure the “long-term sustainability of Teen Center activities,” the release said.

Germination of talks to combine both organizations began approximately two years ago, said Roberts, who joined the staff of the Teen Center in 2002. That year, the center had relocated to its new building and Roberts set about to expand its services and network with other area agencies. Prior to that, Roberts had worked for 10 years as membership services director at the YMCA and for the Midcoast Substance Abuse Council.

“We thoroughly understand the importance of the Teen Center’s work in our community and are honored to be a part of it moving forward,” said YMCA Executive Director Troy Curtis. “It is our intent to continue to offer programs and services without interruption and with as few changes as possible.”

The YMCA Board of Directors voted unanimously in favor of the merger at its Feb. 16 meeting, and the Teen Center directors likewise voted unanimously for the merger on Feb. 25.

The Teen Center serves approximately 400 area youth per year with a variety of activities and programs, opening its doors generally after school from 2:15 to 6 p.m., and during school vacations and the summer. The majority of youth — 85 percent — are of middle school age, and the Camden-Rockport Middle School is close by.

The center provides a free snack every day, and has a computer center, art room, game room, kitchen, lounge, basketball area, deck and skatepark. It also provides music lessons and tutoring.

In 2001, MBNA helped to fund the construction of a new Teen Center building next door on Knowlton Street, nearby a skateboard park that had been built in 2000. In 2000, MBNA had pledged $150,000 for each of the subsequent 10 years for staffing costs at the Teen Center. In 2005, MBNA signed over the Teen Center property to the Teen Center nonprofit.

The Teen Center relies on donations for its fiscal operations, noting on its Web site that its financial support derives from events, individuals and foundations of Aldermere, Cawley Family, Cascade, Deupree, and Starfire, as well as the five towns of Appleton, Camden, Hope, Lincolnville and Rockport.

The Teen Center’s 2008 tax filings indicate that it received $252,609 in donations and miscellaneous revenue that year and had expenses of approximately $259,000. Its assets are listed at $1.1 million, $526,000 of that in investments.

On Camden’s tax rolls, the Teen Center’s .68 acres of land and 6,000-square-foot building are assessed at $781,300.

“I’m thrilled to have the Teen Center merging with the YMCA,” said Roberts in the news release. “After two years of talks, negotiations and due diligence work, we are confident that this is the right decision for our organization.”

Jan Hall, president of the Teen Center, also said in the release: “Ultimately, we felt as an organization that this was the right thing to do for our participants. We feel this arrangement will improve services to area youth and also ensure that they are available for years to come.”