PAWTUCKET — The Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket is embarking on a $6 to $7 million expansion plan for its facility on Moeller Place, thanks to the City Council’s approval of a land conveyance request.
On Wednesday, the City Council voted 8 to 0 to approve a resolution to convey about a 9-acre portion of the 20-acre city property adjacent to the Boys & Girls Club’s existing facility off School Street to the organization for the sum of one dollar.
On Wednesday, city resident Susan Rivet spoke in opposition to the conveyance plan. She said she had “nothing against the Boys & Girls Club,” but felt that with the city’s current economic troubles, taking even a portion of the city-owned property off the tax rolls was a bad idea.
She also noted that the waterfront property might one day be valuable for development as a marina or other private enterprise and suggested the city should retain ownership of as much of the land as possible.
However, William Catelli, president of the Boys & Girls Club’s Board of Directors, and James Hoyt, Chief Executive Officer, told the council that the club’s expansion with a 20,000-square-foot addition to its existing facility will allow for a greater number of the city’s youth to be served. They said that since the Boys and Girls Club consolidated several of its separate area facilities in 2004, its teen membership has doubled.
Hoyt added that the 20-acre parcel of land was once a U.S. Naval facility and it was later decommissioned and deeded to the city. Since 1972, the club had formerly used a Quonset hut on the property for its children’s programs and had a 99-year “use agreement” that extends through 2086 for the site. He added that the Boys & Girls Club maintains the ballfields on the 20-acre wooded site and also allows for other public use of the property, and that the city itself still retains use rights.
Hoyt told the council that a task force had been looking into expansion plans for the club and had concluded that the best option was for the club to stay at its existing facility, which was originally built for $4.5 million. He said the expansion project will add a room that will be used as a teen center.
Hoyt further told the council that the club was seeking the conveyance for the approximate 9 acres of property because it would look better to have ownership of the site as club officials seek financing for the project.