A community’s collective dream to brighten the future for local youth will soon become a reality as the new $6.8 million Boys & Girls Club prepares to open.
The youth club, which at 30,000 square feet is six times larger than the current youth center on Smith Road, will open for public tours on Dec. 3 and begin operation on Jan. 4, when students at Lakota Schools return from winter break.
The woman who was one of the main driving forces behind the project recently walked around construction crews finishing up the interiors of the youth club and said the facility is a reflection of area residents’ dedication to the next generation.
Patti Alderson — board director for the club and a top official with the Ohio alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs — is in charge of the private fundraising and solicitation of state grants as officials campaign to raise money toward the project.
Alderson is familiar with many other such clubs around the state and she said the youth of West Chester and Liberty townships will have access to one of the best in Ohio.
“If it’s not the best, it’s darn close to it. We have everything the kids need here,” said Alderson as she stood outside the club, which sits on the site of the former Lakota Union School at 8735 Cincinnati-Dayton Road, across from the post office.
The youth center is a brick and mortar transformation of the two townships’ love for future generations, said Alderson.
“This club is here because we have a community that cares. We have raised $6.3 million … quite frankly it’s amazing. There is not a community in the state that can do what we’ve done,” she said.
For area youth, which will include students at Lakota Local Schools — the eighth largest school district in Ohio.
Besides a gym and indoor sports, the new center will feature a variety of fun and educational activities and programs as well as a cafe. In the spring, outdoor playground equipment will be installed near an already constructed outdoor basketball court.
The club will also offer community meeting and event spaces for area adults.
The spacious, visually striking, two-story building is also the most visible symbol of a revitalized Olde West Chester business district that lines Cincinnati-Dayton road, just south of the Interstate 75 exchange to West Chester Road.
Alderson said because the new club is so much bigger than the current facility, which serves on average 300 students daily, they can’t yet estimate how many more youngsters and teens will make the center part of their after-school day.
“We just don’t know what all we can do with the club yet,” she said.