Boys & Girls Clubs in Salisbury, Hagerstown get boost to expand child services
Credit: The Herald-Mail
The first meeting of the state’s new three-member Board of Public Works lasted less than an hour, including introductions by new members: Gov. Wes Moore and Comptroller Brooke Lierman. By the meeting’s end, more than $229 million in expenditures were approved, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants for Boys & Girls Clubs in both Hagerstown and Salisbury.
Lierman, whose office is responsible for overseeing every dollar in and out, said that recent federal investment provided a “new opportunity to focus on ensuring that government is not just spending, but that we’re actually investing, investing in our communities.”
The Board unanimously approved $189.5 million across 32 capital grants and loans for projects throughout the state, including some that combine with previously existing federal funding. One such project is $2 million toward a new primary facility for the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County.
Hagerstown facility receives $2 million from state
State Treasurer Dereck Davis, left, speaks during a Board of Public Works meeting in Annapolis, Maryland on Jan. 25, 2023. During their first meeting, Gov. Wes Moore, center, and Comptroller Brooke Lierman, right, voted unanimously with board veteran Davis on millions of dollars in state grants.
Located on Pennsylvania Avenue in Hagerstown, the current club has served children in the community since the 1970s, but the building is more than 100 years old, according to Addie Nardi, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County.
“We’re going to be able to give (children) a safe, state-of-the-art clubhouse that’s going to have all the bells and whistles that these kids, quite frankly, deserve to have,” Nardi said. Asked about the “bells and whistles,” Nardi first said that the new building will not have a serious leaking problem. It will also have a STEM room, a teen center, and an arts and crafts room.
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The facility, one of four in Washington County, currently serves about 80 children, ages 6-18, Nardi said. When the building fully functioned, it could house 125 young people. About 40 are now on a waiting list for programming, she said.
Boys and Girls Club of Washington County located on Pennsylvania Avenue in Hagerstown.
The $2 million approved Wednesday was originally a part of a $5 million request to the administration of then-Gov. Larry Hogan, supported by state Sen. Paul Corderman, R-Washington. $4 million in federal funding for the facility was secured earlier this month when President Joe Biden signed legislation that included the funds as Community Project Funding submitted by Rep. David Trone, D-6th.
Nardi said about $10.5 million has been raised to date for the anticipated $11 million project. The $6 million from the state and federal government has been supplemented with private philanthropy. The new clubhouse is scheduled to be completed in fall 2024, she said.
Salisbury receives grant to double space of Truitt Street Community Center
In Salisbury, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore has operated programming for children at the Truitt Street Community Center since spring 2022. A $350,000 grant approved Wednesday by the Board of Public Works will enable the organization to roughly double the size of the current 3,000-square-foot facility.
The current site, located at 319 Truitt St., includes a gym and is at capacity serving 30 children.
“At the moment, the building is sort of one large room,” said Jesse Schaefer, senior director of development and communications with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore. “It sort of limits the kind of programming you can provide.”
The new space will connect to the old, said Anna Piccirilli, senior regional director on the Eastern Shore with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore. She said the new facility will accommodate at least 75 children a day and is slated to include a learning lab, tech center and STEM room.
Salisbury Mayor Jake Day welcomes everyone during theopening of the Truitt St. Community Center on Monday, March 20, 2018. This location is the first of Salisbury’s new community centers.
“There’s such a huge need for afterschool programs in the area,” said Piccirilli, who also directs programs in Cambridge and Pocomoke City. She credited outgoing Salisbury Mayor Jake Day and his staff for their support of the project, estimated to cost $800,000 when completed this summer.
Day has been selected by Moore to lead the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development.
Moore renews pledge to increase minority participation in state contracts
Neither the Hagerstown nor Salisbury project got mentioned specifically at the Board of Public Works meeting held on the second floor of the State House in Annapolis. Both were approved as a part of a larger package. Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks attended to advocate the approval of a memorandum of understanding between the county and the Maryland Stadium Authority as a step toward a facility near Landover Road and Arena Drive.
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Moore heralded a new day for the Board as he directed the meeting with Lierman and the state’s treasurer of 13 months, Dereck Davis. He also signaled an intention to step toward a campaign pledge to reduce the state’s racial wealth gap by increasing Minority Business Enterprise, or MBE, participation in state contracts.
“The era of agencies generously issuing MBE waivers, and not holding prime contractors accountable for meeting MBE goals, those days and that era has come to an end,” Moore said.
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As a candidate, Moore proposed meeting the state’s own goal of 29 percent minority business participation in its procurement process. In fiscal 2021, the state reached a 17.2 percent minority business participation rate.
Dwight A. Weingarten is an investigative reporter, covering the Maryland State House and state issues. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @DwightWeingart2.