July 31, 2008

Boys and Girls Clubs Get Third Home

By Claudia Melendez Salinas, The Monterey County Herald, Calif.

Jul. 31--It will take about 18 months and more than $2.5 million before it can open, but a second Salinas clubhouse for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Monterey County has a home.

The Salinas City Council on Tuesday approved the Boys and Girls Clubs' plan to operate in a former church building at 331 North Sanborn Road that was recently purchased by the city.

On Wednesday, Donna Ferraro, executive director of the organization, said it is too early to estimate the cost of opening the third clubhouse in Monterey County.

"It's going to be more than $2.5 million," she said. "We really need to raise a minimum of a three-year operating income.

"We really feel we need to do our due diligence to maximize the facility and programs. We want to make sure we do this right."

The organization determined that the city's Alisal sector, an area with a large concentration of school-age children, would benefit from a clubhouse. The City Council's decision puts the plan on a fast track.

"We were very fortunate," Ferraro said. "It would take many more years to find property, run a capital campaign, build the building. We have this property available, and it will happen more quickly."

After it is remodeled to accommodate features such as a weight room, technology center, kitchen and community room, the renovated center will have room for 250 children.

"It's fabulous," said Councilwoman Jyl Lutes, who was on the committee that recommended the Boys and Girls Clubs administer the

center. "I'm very excited, but disappointed that it's going to take 18 months. But good things come to those who wait."

Using money from the Sunset Redevelopment District, the city purchased the 17,000-square-foot building for $2.6 million in April. The former home of the Church of the Nazarene sits on a 45,000-square-foot lot with a 36-space parking lot.

After approving the purchase, the city formed a committee to decide its best use and requested bids from community service organizations.

Second Chance Family and Youth Services, a gang-prevention program, and the Behavioral Health Division of Monterey County submitted applications to operate in the building.

Lutes initially liked the idea of a one-stop shop for at-risk youths, so she was supportive of Behavioral Health's proposal to collaborate with different agencies to provide services for families. But she eventually gave her support to the Boys and Girls Clubs.

Councilman Tony Barrera campaigned to bring the Boys and Girls Clubs to the Alisal area. Even though the building is not in his district, he isn't disappointed.

"Now I can concentrate on La Placita," he said, referring to a project to revamp Closter Park. "You have to put in a lot of work, and it happened, so I'm happy now."

Claudia Melendez Salinas can be reached at 753-6755 or [email protected]


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