West Chester Boys & Girls Club gets Lakota backing, money

Lakota Schools will pay a majority of the cost to demolish an old school after backers of the proposed Boys & Girls Club to be built on the site told the school board it had raised $5.5 million toward an $8 million to $9 million goal

The public school district will pay $300,000 of the approximately $500,000 cost to demolish the former Union School in Olde West Chester.

The board unanimously approved a resolution Thursday — as part of a collaborative agreement — stating the Boys & Girls Club of West Chester/Liberty “has provided satisfactory evidence of financing contingency” toward the project.

The district’s expenditure is a “cost effective” move, board members said, given the estimates of renovating the building — which is more than a half-century old — would cost at least $10 million.

The 2015 collaborative agreement between the district and the club called for officials with the youth organization garnering enough private funds by June 1 to earn the school board’s endorsement and financial commitment of $300,000.

Lakota Schools Treasurer Jenni Logan said “as far as financing goes …we believe we are at a point where they (club officials) have satisfactory financing.”

Board member Ray Murray said the deal has “a return on investment that is great.”

“This is great for the community and for the kids,” Murray said of the club, which is scheduled to open in early 2018 at the old school’s location at 8735 Cincinnati Dayton Road.

The new Boys & Girls Club will be a 31,000-square-foot, two-story structure that includes a junior high-size gymnasium, library, art room, dance studio and possibly even a recording studio.

An Ohio bill signed by Gov. John Kasich added $300,000 to the club's fund-raising efforts.

West Chester Twp. resident Danielle Werner Richardson, who lives near Olde West Chester, maintains the former school, which is no longer in use, should be renovated. Moreover, she objected to $300,000 of Lakota school tax dollars going toward the demolition.

“We are disappointed to see Lakota proceed with this plan in spite of public outcry,” Richardson said.

She criticized “using school (tax) money to destroy a structurally sound historic building for the benefit of a private organization.”

Patti Alderson, board of director member for the Boys & Girls Club of West Chester/Liberty and the leader in the private fund-raising effort for the new club, said she was happy with the board’s action.

“This is huge,” Alderson said at the board meeting. “To have the board make this tremendous commitment to our community will change many young lives in the future.”

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