The Boys and Girls Club of Washington County is moving forward by replacing its main clubhouse with a state-of-the-art 32,000 square foot clubhouse.
Addie Nardi, executive director of the local Boys and Girls Club, met with county commissioners on Tuesday to discuss the club’s $8 million reconstruction plan for the building at 805 Pennsylvania Ave. in Hagerstown.
The county club has already raised $4.3 million for the project.
More than $2.3 million came from the Fletcher Foundation, Callas Foundation, Bowman Family Foundation and the club’s board of directors.
Governor Larry Hogan has also earmarked $2 million for the club’s project in his capital budget, although that budget has yet to be approved by the General Assembly in Annapolis.
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The building, which is over 100 years old, has caused problems for the club over the years and its condition needs to be rectified, according to Nardi.
Nardi told a Hagerstown City Council meeting on February 1 that the plan was to have the new building from next year.
The children come back, no matter what the problems
During Nardi’s presentation, she posted photos of the old facility showing some of her problems, including scorching, water leaks and mold.
There have been attempts to address these issues in the past, but there is still a lot of work to be done, according to Nardi. For example, the exterior walls of the facility are covered in blight, a plant disease caused by fungi.
The building also has water leaks, requiring the club to line up buckets near the facility’s windows in case of rain.
“We have historical leaks,” Nardi said at the county commissioners’ meeting. “The building has been leaking for more than five years that I have been there.”
Nardi said there were an insufficient number of toilets and urinals compared to the number of children passing through in a day, which Nardi said was 75 to 80 children. In addition, the plumbing in the facility is old and prone to clogging.
The facility also has stairs that are steep and pose a tripping hazard, according to Nardi.
“The building is not ADA (compliant),” Nardi said. “It’s been grandfathered, so it doesn’t need to be ADA compliant at this point.”
Nardi told the Herald-Mail in an email on Tuesday that the club received the building through a donation in the 1970s and has been operating in the space ever since.
Other issues include mold in the faculty office, holes in the walls, and malfunctioning gymnasium lights.
Nardi added that there were issues with window air conditioners and a 50-year-old underground oil tank that “costs me $3,000 every time I want to put 1,000 gallons in it.”
“It’s not a good situation,” Nardi said. “We also know the roof needs to be replaced. We know that what little heat we have comes mostly from the 35-year-old metal roof.”
However, the children and their families still show up, according to Nardi, no matter what problems the building is facing. In 2021, the club served over 600 children.
“Coming back … from (COVID-19), we thought our numbers would stay low,” Nardi said. “But we had to impose a waiting list, because children and their families always like to come to the club.”
$8 million prize, race against time
The reconstruction plan includes a two-story facility with a gym in the back. The first floor would be used for club space, while the second floor would be used for offices.
The club space includes a teen center, STEM lab, arts and crafts room, combined cafeteria/auditorium, commercial kitchen, and gym.
Nardi added that the facility will have “more bathrooms than we know what to do with.”
County Commissioner Randy Wagner said the presentation brought back memories of when he lived across the street from the facility. He called the problems he is facing “really a shame”.
County Commissioner Charlie Burkett said he would like to partner with Hagerstown City Council in determining the remaining cost of the reconstruction plan, which stands at $3.7 million.
“We don’t have time not to actively seek funding for this building and replace this building,” Nardi said.