Boys & Girls Club plans $6.5M building to replace school


WHAT: West Chester Twp. Board of Zoning Appeals

WHERE: West Chester Township Hall, 9113 Cincinnati-Dayton Road.

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 8

WHY: The Boys & Girls Club of West Chester/Liberty Township has applied for two variances from the township's board of zoning appeals. One is a variance from the front and side yard setback requirements and from the requirement of one principal structure per parcel for the property. The other variance is to allow a not-for-profit organization in an Single Family Residence District. Both items are set to be discussed and potentially voted upon at Wednesday's BZA meeting.

The Boys & Girls Club of West Chester/Liberty hopes to soon demolish Union School at 8735 Cincinnati Dayton Road and build a new $6.5 million structure in its place.

The 31,000-square-foot, two-story facility will feature a junior high-size gymnasium, library, art room, dance studio and possibly even a recording studio, according to Patti Alderson, chair of the capital campaign for the building and head of the project for the organization.

The facade on the outside of a building that reads “Union Township Hall” will be saved and displayed inside the building, she said.

“We’re going to commemorate the old Union School and all the wonderful kids that have moved through that school district,” Alderson said. “It’s great that we can bring life back to that location with lots of kids and lots of activities.”

In addition, the new facility will be open for use by the public for events, meetings and seminars.

The upstairs lobby will have space for small group meetings to be held and the downstairs area will be designed with the old Union Elementary School in mind.

“It’s going to be kind of a walk down memory lane … and have a kind of 50s, 60s flair to it,” Alderson said.

The new structure also will feature office space, a clinic and a large meeting space that can be used for classrooms, she said.

Four separate rooms are planned for students in second grade through high school and will be dedicated to helping children through educational programs supported by the club’s vision, mission and core beliefs.

Alderson said getting the building constructed is “a huge undertaking.”

“I believe in my heart that the community will embrace it because it’s such a wonderful opportunity for the youth of our community,” she said. “It’s been proven that the hours between 3 and 6 is the deadliest time of the day for kids because they have so many opportunities to get into things that are not necessarily beneficial to them.”

The Boys & Girls Club gives area students, regardless of whether they go to Lakota or any other school, a place where they belong, she said.

“We’ve been open (at 4845 Smith Road) since last June and already we’ve had teachers stop our executive director and say ‘I can’t tell you what a difference it’s made for this kid or that kid,’” Alderson said.

Demolition of the 54,000-square-foot Union School is projected to occur sometime in June, assuming all financing goes as planned, Alderson said.

Built in 1917, Union Elementary was replaced in 2009 by a new facility of the same name at 7672 LeSourdsville-West Chester Road.

Using the nearly century-old school in its current condition without modifications was considered, but ultimately disregarded due to cost, infrastructure and security issues, club officials said.

Construction of the club’s new home is expected to be completed by fall 2016, Alderson said.

The preliminary estimate for demolition costs is $500,000, but would have to go through a bid process to determine the final amount, according to Chris Passarge, the school district’s chief operations officer.

“If we do not demo the site, there are still costs to maintain a vacant building,” Passarge said.

Those costs could number about $20,000 a year via maintaining the site and its grounds, maintaining insurance coverage for the site, dealing with ongoing issues of vandalism and unauthorized use of the grounds, he said.

Under the terms of an agreement signed between Lakota Local School District and the Boys & Girls Club last September, the club will pay for 40 percent of the demolition costs while the district will pay the remaining 60 percent.

The $200,000 the club would pay toward demolition costs would be paid as monthly lease payments of $10,000 per year for the first 20 years of the lease, according to Lakota officials.

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