Boys and Girls Club looks to expand in Park City
With their current location scheduled for renovation, the Park City Boys and Girls Club is discussing new building options and may try to expand their current program.
The Boys and Girls Club is open to all children ages 6-18 who are in first through twelfth grade, and provides them with activities such as art and sports. They also offer a homework club, drug and alcohol prevention and provide a stable, consistent environment for children.
In a public meeting held the last week of June at the Park city Rec Building in City Park President/CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake, LeAnn Saldivar raised a number of issues she is hoping to get community feedback on.
"Is there the interest and is there the feasibility to have a larger club?" she asked.
A bigger space is being considered because the Park City Rec Building, where they have been since 2004, is undergoing renovations.
The advantages of a new facility, she said, include being able to stay open year round. Currently, they close during the summer because the city uses the space for its own summer programs.
"Summer is bothersome. It’s devastating to the kids that we serve to be gone for three months," she said.
Detective Mike Fierro of the Park City Police Department, who is also a Boys and Girls Club alumnus, agreed the summer closing is a problem and said that was when he needed it most.
In addition, a new and larger space would allow them to reach more children and teenagers who could benefit from what the Boys and Girls Club has to offer.
Saldivar shared figures from the 2004 census which showed there are approximately 1,500 children living within 2 miles of the current building, but due to size limitations they are only serving about 250 children, or 30 kids a day.
Having a larger building would also allow the club to expand their programs geared toward teenagers.
Fierro noted that juvenile crime rises in Park City during summer months. He also helped establish one of the first gang units in Salt Lake City and has observes some patterns in Park City that suggest it might be on the rise.
"We’re starting to see gang development in its infant stages," he said noting that teens often join gangs because "there’s nothing else going on in their lives."
Reaching the large Hispanic population in Park City and getting them involved in the community is also an issue, Fierro said. He recently worked at the Park City High School prom and noted that very few Hispanics attended.
"There is a disconnect here and I don’t think it’s intentional," he said.
Fierro added that many officers in the Park City Police Department would like to be more involved in the community and offer support for the Park City Boys and Girls Club.
Recreation Supervisor of the City Park Recreation Department Jessica Moran agreed it would be nice to have an organization that could help fill a niche with the Hispanic community.
Moran said she was concerned though about the Boys and Girls Club finding an increased following with the abundance of youth programs that are already present in Park City.
"I just wonder what sort of guarantee you would have that the kids would come," she said.
Saldivar said the Boys and Girls Club has never had an opening where they weren’t inundated, but added that there would be continual assessment of the program in terms of what brought the children in, what they liked and didn’t and why some chose not to attend.
She also observed that even without transportation to their Park City facility, people still participate.
"One of the things that has struck me a great deal is that kids work pretty hard to get here," she said.
Fierro agreed there was a need for their program in the area and it could be beneficial to increase their size.
"I think that our next step is to generate a list of people that are interested in helping us expand our base," Saldivar said.
For more information on the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salt Lake visit http://www.bgcgsl.org .
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