City Plan, Parks Commission Say Yes to Boys & Girls Club Plans
By Brandi Makuski
City leaders on Monday said yes to the site plans for a new Boys and Girls Club Youth Center.
The 15,000 square-foot site plan will be added to the existing city rec building adjacent to P.J. Jacobs Junior High, more than doubling the current building’s size.
Director Kevin Quevillon said the club serves about 300 students daily during the school year between its seven locations, adding the club’s current teen center, located downtown, is too small and only able to accommodate about 20 teenagers each day during its after school activities. He said a move to the new location would increase the club’s capacity to at least 100 area youth and allow for better accessibility to pedestrians and bus lines.
The teen center currently serves boys and girls in grades 7-12 during non-school weekdays, after school and during the summer months, while younger students currently participate Boys and Girls Club activities at area elementary schools or the club’s Plover location. The new center will serve students of all ages, but will have dedicated space for teenagers.
In early 2013 the city approved the land lease for the building addition, and Monday night the site plan was approved during a joint meeting of the city’s Park Board and Plan Commission.
The move is a win-win for both the city and club, according to Mayor Andrew Halverson, but not everyone was so excited about the project.
“The Boys and Girls Club does a good deal of good, I’m sure, and I’m sure the staff does a good job,” said resident Cathy Dugan, “but this is taking away a lot of green space on Michigan Avenue.”
Dugan also said the club’s growth points to a larger problem she said isn’t given enough attention.
“I’m not sure if you realize we can’t have one (referring to the club) anywhere in the country, without poverty,” she said. “Having the building further established tells us we’re going to have poverty for some time.”
Dugan then suggested the city should be “putting our public resources towards raising the wages and benefits of those parents” instead of allowing the new construction.
Quevillon said the new building will be the “clubhouse in Stevens Point that we’ve never had”, and said the club is looking to upgrade existing sites along with building the new youth center.
“Right now we’re in the private phase of our fundraising,” said Fritz Schierl, who sits on the club’s board of directors. Schierl added the organization would eventually reach out to the public for additional fundraising during various events throughout the year.
Club leaders declined to say how much the project would cost, adding additional details would be available early next year. The club will have to earn further approval from the city prior to the start of construction.