When the new Boys & Girls Club here opens late next year it will be six times larger than its current cramped facility and the community leaders who will be involved in its creation want to make sure they are on the same page about its operation and role.
So Wednesday evening, officials from The Boys & Girls Club of West Chester and Liberty met with Lakota school officials, a top law enforcement officer and parents to discuss what they envision for the new club.
The meeting is part of a series of Lakota “community conversations” on a variety of issues of importance to the communities in the Butler County school system, which covers both townships.
“The meeting is for the school board and the administration to get a better idea what we do and how we can help each other,” said Michelle Seither, CEO of The Boys & Girls Club of West Chester and Liberty.
Participants, which included West Chester Township Police Chief Joel Herzog, heard about “what do we do and what do we do with the kids on a day-to-day basis,” said Seither of the more than a dozen meeting participants at the club’s current facility on West Chester Twp.’s Smith Road.
The new, larger club will be located at the site of the former Lakota Union School at 8735 Cincinnati Dayton Road in Olde West Chester.
The old school was recently leveled and a ground-breaking ceremony for the new youth club, which has a private fund-raising goal of $9 million of which $6.2 million has been achieved, will be held 2 p.m. Sunday at the nine-acre site.
Lakota Board of Education member Julie Shaffer said the meeting is one of the “opportunities to hear what is important in our communities.”
“It has really been helpful as we make decisions on different things,” said Shaffer.
Lakota officials signed a 2014 collaborative agreement with youth club officials for a long-term, land lease citing prohibitive costs of maintaining the empty school. As part of the agreement Lakota spent $236,000 on demolition.
The 2014 agreement was contingent on club officials raising enough private and state money by June 2016, which officials reached.
School officials have also praised the deal as a cost effective lease given the district retains ownership of the land as compared to spending an estimated $10 million to renovate and maintain the current building.
Patti Alderson, board of director member for club and the leader in the private fund-raising effort for the new club, said the project is on schedule and she anticipates the new club open late December 2017 or in January 2018.
“People are getting excited,” said Alderson. “The new place is six times bigger. This place is 5,000 square feet and the new place will be 30,000 square feet.”
The next Lakota community conversation meeting is 6:30 p.m. Nov. 2 at the West Chester Presbyterian Church at 8930 Cincinnati-Dayton Road in West Chester Twp.