According to Randy Krassow, one of the club’s primary board members, the Boys and Girls Club of the Valleys will serve as a safe, positive resource for the youth of Scotts Valley as well as those living in the San Lorenzo Valley.
Spurred by a pledge of $1 million from Scotts Valley residents Joe and Linda Aliberti, the club is in escrow to acquire a 1.5-acre parcel located at 5060 Scotts Valley Drive for the facility.
Krassow said the club is on the fast track for recognition with the Boys and Girls Club’s national governing body, and could open as soon as spring 2013.
“(The Alibertis’) gift is going to leave a legacy for generations,” Krassow said.
The property is the former site of a recreational vehicle display lot, adjacent to the Scotts Valley Car Wash.
According to Krassow, the plan is to open the club in early 2013 and use the existing building as the main facility until more funding can be secured for an expansion.
“(The Boys and Girls Club is) a facility-based organization,” he said. “Our plan is to be able to use the existing building while fundraising.”
According to Joe Aliberti, a retired general contractor, contributing to the Boys and Girls Club was a no-brainer, having been involved with the Santa Cruz chapter of the club in a variety of roles for most of his life — including more than 20 years as a board member.
“It’s a great thing for everybody,” he said. “I was very successful, and we were able to put the money back into the community.”
While the new center will serve youth between the ages of 7 and 18, Krassow said, the desire was to create a separate space where 14- to 18-year-olds would feel welcomed.
“We really want to focus on a teen center,” he said. “Typically, a 14-year-old doesn’t want to be hanging out where there’s 9-year-olds.”
Krassow said that while it was too early to say anything for certain, there are a variety of plans that would be considered.
One would be to develop and build a new building and house the teen center in the existing building, or to dedicate a section of the new building for teen use, with its own entrance.
A dedicated facility, Krassow said, would include an education room and a large club room for games, along with rooms for arts and crafts.
The community would be consulted extensively through open houses and public outreach before any plans would be agreed upon, Krassow said.
“I think it wouldn’t be a good idea to have any concrete plans until you hear from the community,” he said. “Listening to people is going to be critically important to its success.”
A teen center has been something that has been sorely needed in Scotts Valley, said City Councilman Randy Johnson.
“(Having a teen center) fills such a void,” Johnson said, adding that throughout his time on the council, the lack of a teen center was one of the most common concerns expressed by constituents.
Krassow said that over the next several months, the club will seek volunteer members to serve on a fundraising board. The club will also seek input from children and teens.
“Our goal is to find out what it is the kids want to see,” he said.
According to Linda Aliberti, she and her husband thought to include the Boys and Girls Club in their estate planning for some time.
She described how the couple had been particularly inspired by the community support of a Boys and Girls Club chapter while driving through Bozeman, Mont.
“We couldn’t wait to get back and get this thing started,” Linda Aliberti said. “It’s been a dream of ours for quite some time.”
City Councilmember Dene Bustichi applauded the efforts of the Alibertis and the Boys and Girls Club board members.
“This is incredible for our city,” he said. “It’s remarkable — every time you put out a million dollars, that’s a lot of support.”
Mayor Donna Lind said that having a safe, structured, centralized location for youth activities would help keep youth busy and out of trouble.
“Kids are lost if you can’t get them active,” she said.
City Councilmember Jim Reed echoed Lind’s thoughts and called for general support for the club, saying it would benefit the community down the road.
“The kids who were troubled 30 years ago are troubled adults now,” he said.
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