Officials and donors gathered Monday to view construction on a new community center for the Boys & Girls Club of Schenectady.
The Boys & Girls Club building in Schenectady’s Quackenbush Park is half finished.
Inside what will become a theater, Boys & Girls Club of Schenectady Executive Director Shane Bargy thanked a sizeable team of donors and officials for being a part of the $13 million state-of-the-art facility.
“We’re standing here in the beginnings of a facility that’s being built by compassion or belief by everyone sitting or standing in this theater. In about six months, this current shell of a building will be completed and filled with hundreds of children and teens that need us the most,” said Bargy.
At more than 39,000 square feet, the two-story center will feature a theater, a large gymnasium, learning labs, a radio station, commercial kitchen, and other amenities. The new center will be able to accommodate 300 kids and teens a day.
Among the group of dignitaries who spoke at Monday’s hardhat ceremony was state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara. The Democrat from the 111th District commented on the location of the facility, between Mont Pleasant Middle School and Pleasant Valley Elementary. The building is on the border of the Mount Pleasant and Hamilton Hill neighborhoods.
“When that school bell rings and the kids leave school, we know this facility will be here. And what that means is opportunities. It means that we’re making an investment in our community, yes, but we’re making an investment in these kids. We’re making an investment in our future,” said Santabarbara.
The Boys & Girls Club says 95 percent of kids that participate in its programs go on to graduate from high school.
State Senator James Tedisco told stories of his own youth spent at the then Rotterdam Boys Club. The 49th District Republican presented a photo printed in the Schenectady Gazette when he received the “Golden Boy” award at age 12 in April of 1963.
“I was literally there 24-7. I lived in the Rotterdam Boys Club. It was everything to us. There was nothing else there. We learned to become men and now they learn to become men and women from the leadership over there,” said Tedisco.
To fund the $13 million project, $7.8 million was raised from donations. The New York State Division of Homes and Community Renewal provided $3 million from its Community Investment Fund. An additional $2.4 million in equity is expected to be generated from New Market Tax Credit allocations from Empire State Development and The Community Builders.
The Boys & Girls Club project comes at a time of additional investment in the surrounding neighborhoods. A new Mont Pleasant library branch is set to open with a formal ribbon cutting on Saturday. A library branch opened in the Hamilton Hill neighborhood in 2016.
The Boys & Girls Club sold its former building on Craig Street to The Community Builders. TCB renovated the building into apartments. It’s part of a larger effort to develop 180 units of affordable housing in the area.
Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said he’s “proud to be mayor at this time.”
“Where you look at the number of projects that are happening simultaneously and in a progression that builds this community out, it creates opportunity, it creates value, and that all of us here should just give ourselves a pat on the back because everybody has played a role in helping this community turn around and really make it an envy of other communities in the region and across the state,” said McCarthy.
The new Boys & Girls Club of Schenectady facility is expected to open by the end of the year, and will be named the Adeline Wright Graham Boys & Girls Club. The late philanthropist was an auxiliary board member for the Boys & Girls Club of Schenectady for more than 20 years.