In the community

Boys and Girls club ponders move as repairs add up

ONTARIO – The Ontario Boys and Girls Club is struggling to keep up with major repairs at its current facility and is discussing moving into a new location.

The clubhouse is located at 573 S.W. 3rd Ave. near the Ontario Middle School in a building owned by the Ontario School District. The district doesn’t charge the club rent to use the 8,000-square-foot building.

Flooring is popping up in space used for children’s programs, making it difficult to sanitize, according to club leaders. Other parts of the building contain asbestos, which costs the club more than $2,000 each year to seal to prevent it from circulating.

Dana Castellani, chief executive of the Boys and Girls Club of Western Treasure Valley, said the Ontario clubhouse on average sees roughly up to 115 kids each day, ranging from first graders to high school seniors.

Established in 2009, the Boys and Girls Club has been in the school building since 2013, according to Castellani. The club pays for utilities, insurance, repairs and improvements.

According to the club’s website, the club provides an after-school program and day care. During school days, the clubhouse is open from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. After Ontario School District shifted to four-day school weeks, the club opened from 7:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Fridays.

Castellani said that during the summer and winter breaks, the club provides three meals, chaperoned field trips, and programs related to academics and science, technology, engineering and math. There are also other structured activities for teens aimed preventing drug and alcohol use and other risky behaviors.

The Boys and Girls Club of Western Treasure Valley also includes clubhouses in Weiser and Payette, according to the organization’s website.

Castellani emphasized that the Ontario School District has been supportive of the clubhouse throughout the organization’s partnership with the district. However, the building is old and started out as a school called, Condon School.

She said while the facility needs significant repairs, the club is limited in how many it can serve because of the space. Castellani said that based on the number of kids in the Ontario School District, she estimates the Boys and Girls Club could see an average of 300 kids daily.

She said the Boys and Girls Club requires a clubhouse to have 35 square feet of space for each kid. That would indicate a need for 10,000 square feet ­– 2,000 more than the current building and not accounting for offices, bathrooms, and a commercial kitchen.

With the conversation about a new location in its infancy, Castellani said she does not want the organization to get too far ahead. She added that she and her staff, which includes 35 paid staffers and a dozen volunteers, are working on the club’s strategic plan, which sketches out the organization’s goals for the next four years. She said once the plan is drafted she would have a better idea of what direction the club is heading regarding a new location and the needs.

She said the strategic plan would increase the club’s chances of finding additional funding sources. Last year, she noted that state Sen. Lynn Findley secured $100,000 for the club after touring the facility and seeing that it needed repairs. Those funds paid for a security system that included controlled entrances and cameras at each of the doors.

Castellani added that professional services costs are shared between Oregon and Idaho and the organization solicits Idaho donors to help pay for repairs.

In November, the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Board denied the club’s application for a $100,000 to replace the flooring, update its teen center and give the building a complete facelift.

While the board members commented on the significant work the Boys and Girls Club does in the region, the members said the project did not address the border’s economic development priorities.

The Boys and Girls Club’s grant application noted that the club is one of the county’s few day care options for working parents. According to a report from the state Department of Early Learning and Care, more than half of the state’s employers cite a lack of affordable child care as a barrier to hiring and retaining staff.

Dana Castellani, chief executive of the Boys and Girls Club of the Western Treasure Valley, points out the old flooring that needs replacing at the Ontario location Thursday, Jan. 4. The building is in need of major repairs. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell)

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