Solutions found for B&G Club
Posted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 9:04 pm
By GLENDA CAUDLE
Special Features Editor
Union City’s Boys & Girls Club was offered a new home Monday night — at least temporarily. And then it was discovered it might not need one.
At the Union City School Board meeting, unanimous approval was granted to a motion to allow the local Boys & Girls Club to use the Union City Middle School gym for the remainder of this school year for its after-school program from 3-7 p.m. weekdays. The motion allowed for review of the informal agreement between the school system and the Boys and Girls Club on a monthly basis thereafter, so that adjustments could be made for utilization of the gym, which is regularly in use even after school dismisses for vacation for other summer programs.
It was explained that while the club plans to move its base of operations to the former Central Elementary School site as soon as that property has been refurbished, work cannot begin there until approval is granted on a loan for that purpose. It is estimated that it could be several months before CES is usable as a new home for the club.
The quest for a temporary base of operations for the national organization was necessitated by the condition of the roof over a portion of the wing in which the club carries out weekday operations at the former Miles School. Because of leaks in the building’s roof — leaks which were not directly affecting the club’s portion of the west wing but which inspectors said could cause hazards in the hallway which children might have to access as an emergency exit from the building — city officials a week ago came to a decision, with input from planning and codes enforcement officials, to shut the entire west wing down. That decision was to remain in effect until an estimated $28,500 woth in replacement work for the roof could be completed.
The westernmost section of the wing, which has been the portion of the building directly affected by the leaks for more than five years, is occupied by Northwest Tennessee Economic Development Council’s commodities food program. It is that governmental entity, which also is responsible for the Head Start program which occupies the eastern wing of the former school, which leases the entire property from the City of Union City. At last week’s city council meeting, the city presented a plan calling for the Boys and Girls Club to pay for one-third of the cost of roof repairs, with NWTEDC and the city picking up the remaining two thirds.
Club officials protested that:
• they did not have responsibility for repair of the roof under their agreement with NWTEDC to use part of the Miles School space;
• the children in the club were no more at risk from the leaks than they had been throughout the club’s existence there, since club members do not normally use that portion of the hall affected by the water;
• the club’s board of directors had repeatedly called attention to the problem affecting NWTEDC’s commodities space since the club opened its doors in 2004 and became a witness to the problem;
• no action had been taken during that time by the city or NWTEDC to correct the problem;
• the club had satisfactorily patched a portion of the roof that had recently been the source of a leak in a room used by the organization;
• the club had already poured in excess of $75,000 into the building when they entered into an agreement with NWTEDC to use the classroom space in the middle of the west wing, extending eastward to and including the gym.
City officials, however, insisted the non-profit organization come up with payment for the roof, with one council member directing the club’s board of directors to get on the phone and start asking for donations for that purpose. The city also proceeded with plans to shut down all activity in the west wing and posted notices at the club Wednesday that the building’s west wing would remain off-limits until the roof could be torn off and replaced to stop the leaks.
Meanwhile, the club’s chief professional officer, Ron Green, and members of the board of directors were scrambling to find a way to reopen the club. Their request of the school system was one of the options they were pursuing in an effort to go on providing a safe and wholesome environment for 100-200 children who use the club’s facilities each day.
At the same time the school board was coming to the club’s rescue on a temporary basis Monday evening, city officials were meeting in an orientation session attended by a large crowd, including members of the Boys & Girls Club board of directors and Green; Don Ridgeway, who is executive director of NWTEDC; and numerous concerned parents.
In that meeting, city officials acknowledged that, as a result of a review of the agreement between the city and NWTEDC, it had been determined that those two entities were responsible for replacing the roof and the Boys & Girls Club would not be held accountable for the expense. It was further noted that the city had secured bids for replacing the roof two years ago and that the low bidder —Stambaugh Roofing— had agreed to do the work at the price quoted at that time ($28,500). The company further agreed to begin work immediately and to complete the roof replacement as quickly as possible — hopefully in no more than a week, with cooperative weather.
According to interim city manager Kathy Dillon, city attorney Jim Glasgow Jr. said TCA codes allow for the city council, upon written recommendation of the city manager, to authorize non-competitive bids when it is clearly to the advantage of the city.
City officials then determined that the club could reopen for operations, beginning today, so long as there was no rain and no resulting leaks.
The Union City Council is set to meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Municipal Building to vote on the expenses for the roof, as well as to approve a new lease with NWTEDC and allow alteration of the building.
“I applaud the efforts of the city, NWTEDC and the many concerned citizens in helping us bring back the safe haven for the young people in the community,” said Green, who also expressed appreciation to the school system for trying to assist with the problem.
Union City Director of Schools Gary Houston pointed out that the school system and the club have identical interests in the safety of the children served by Boys & Girls Club and share a desire to see children actively and positively engaged in after-school programs. He said he was glad the school system could offer a solution to the problem the club faced but was glad, for the sake of the children, that the city had been able to arrange for them to return to their regular club surroundings.
Mrs. Caudle may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 4.13.10