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July 16, 2022

Boys and Girls Club of Washington County readies public fundraising phase for clubhouse

Credit: The Herald-Mail, Michael D. Garcia

As the Boys and Girls Club of Washington County prepares to start public fundraising for a planned replacement for its home, the organization will do so on a strong foundation thanks to money from the federal and state governments.

The original price tag to replace the more than 100-year-old clubhouse was $8 million as of February. But Addie Nardi, executive director of the nonprofit, told The Herald-Mail in a telephone interview that the cost is a “moving target” due to inflation and supply shortages.

Currently, the projected cost is around $10 million, according to Nardi.

“We’re so close,” Nardi said.

The project is expected to start its public phase in October.

Nardi added that the community response has been positive, and the organization has received support from Gov. Larry Hogan and other Maryland elected officials.

In February, the Hogan administration had proposed $2 million in Maryland’s capitol budget, which was approved during the General Assembly session, to replace the organization’s main clubhouse with a 32,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility. Additionally, more than $2.3 million came from the Fletcher Foundation, Callas Foundation, Bowman Family Foundation and the organization’s board of directors.

At a Washington County commissioner meeting in February, Commissioner Charlie Burkett said he would like for the commissioners and Hagerstown City Council to collaborate and come up with the remaining funds.

Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. David Trone, D-6th, said that $4 million for the new clubhouse is included in a bill that was recently approved by the House Appropriations Committee, of which Trone is a member. However, the bill still needs approval from the full U.S. House and U.S. Senate and, assuming the money survives bill negotiations, President Joe Biden would still need to sign it into law.

An outdated facility built in the 1970s

During a meeting in mid-February, Nardi told the county commissioners about the issues at the Boys and Girls Club’s facility, including blight, water leaks and mold. She also said the facility lacks enough toilets and urinals to handle the number of children who visit the clubhouse, and there are stairs that are not ADA compliant.

The Boys and Girls Club of Washington County received the building through a donation in the 1970s and has been functioning in the space since, according to a previous report.

But the troubles with the building haven’t stopped families from visiting the old clubhouse. During 2021, the club served more than 600 kids.

“Coming back … from (COVID-19), we thought our numbers would stay down,” Nardi said previously. “But we actually had to enforce a waitlist because the kids and their families still love coming to the club.”

What would the new Boys and Girls Clubhouse look like?

The rebuilding 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 space will include a brand new teen center, a STEM lab, an arts-and-crafts room, a combined cafeteria/auditorium, a commercial kitchen and a gym. A career/workforce development program will be implemented at the new clubhouse as well; the club lacks the space to do it currently.

Nardi said construction is expected to begin next year.