News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

July 5, 2012

Boys and Girls Club more than triples space with move to former Chauncey Rose

TERRE HAUTE — The Vigo County School Corp. has moved out, and the Terre Haute Boys and Girls Club is making plans to move in to part of the former Chauncey Rose Middle School.

Jimmy Smith, the club’s executive director, said he is “overwhelmed” by the possibilities at the Chauncey Rose site.

The amount of space for after-school programming will at least triple, and the club also gains outdoor facilities it didn’t have before including outdoor basketball, a track, football field and tennis courts.

“We’ll be able to do so many things with kids out there,” Smith said as he looked toward the track.

Last November, the school district announced its plans to donate the entire Chauncey Rose Middle School property to the Boys and Girls Club after the school closed at the end of the 2011-12 school year.

The school district completed moving out Thursday, and the Boys and Girls Club now has possession. A warranty deed transferring ownership was recorded Jan. 10.

One of the goals is to expand participation in the neighborhood to “the kids who need us the most,” Smith said. Many will be able to walk or ride bikes to the North 13th Street location.

The club plans to begin operation at the new facility Sept. 4, with its after-school programming moving to the former Chauncey Rose related arts building. Those programs  include the learning center, tutoring, a computer room and areas for arts/crafts and games.

The club also will use the building that houses the Howard Sharpe gym.

The club will continue to use the gym at its 220 N. Third St. location, but it will no longer have the after-school programming there this fall, Smith said.

Smith said he couldn’t offer after-school programming at both locations because of costs associated with staffing, so he decided to move that programming to the Chauncey Rose site, which has more space.

During a walk-through Tuesday, Smith pointed to the many large rooms in the related arts building and described how they would be used. “When I came in here, I was just shocked at the size of these rooms,” he said.

What will become the learning center also has some smaller rooms available for tutoring. The former Chauncey Rose art room will be used for arts and crafts.

One large room may be used for a teen center, where older middle school students and high school students “have a place to come and hang out. It would give them a place of their own,” he said.

In the past, about 45 to 50 kids have used the club’s after-school programs, and Smith hopes to see that expand to 100 or more.

The club has about 2,000 members in the Wabash Valley, with 1,200 to 1,300 participating in its basketball programs. About 300 young people signed up for an early bird summer day camp.

The club also offers programs that include cheerleading, tumbling, golf, volleyball, fall baseball and flag football. It operates a ball field on Eighth Avenue.

Smith hopes to add a track program at the Chauncey Rose site. In addition, the club will receive a grant of at least $22,000 to help improve high school graduation rates.

Before the Sept. 4 opening, the former related arts building will need to have some painting and some ceiling tiles replaced. Smith wants it to look nice, but he also hopes to keep any move-in expenses to a minimum.

The club will not use the main school building, except perhaps the hall to get from the related arts building to the gym. Eventually, the plan is to tear down the main school building and build a new gymnasium to replace the North Third Street facilities. That will likely require a capital campaign or a major donor.

“We eventually want to move over here. This is where we want to be,” Smith said of the Chauncey Rose site.

The building housing the gym also will house offices for Smith; Bobby Moore, the education director; and office director. It will include a front desk area, concession stand and meeting space.

Gerstmeyer Tech and Chauncey Rose memorabilia will remain in the hall of the gym building. “There’s a lot of history there,” Smith said.

In another change, Smith anticipates taking out one set of tennis courts to make room for parking that would extend to Locust Street.

Looking to the future, Smith noted that various parties have shown interest in purchasing the North Third Street property. Proceeds from a future sale of the current Boys and Girls Club would be used for improvements at the Chauncey Rose site, he said.

As he drives through the Chauncey Rose neighborhood on his way to the club’s ball field, Smith sees many young people he believes could benefit from the new location.

“Hopefully, we’ll give these kids an option and alternative to have some place to come and be safe and secure and learn and have a good time,” he said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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