When the Watertown Boys & Girls Club reopens its doors for the school year this week members may not recognize the building. The facility on Whites Avenue recently completed a major renovation, and on Saturday the Club had a grand opening.
Executive Director Renee Gaudette said she can’t wait to see the looks on children’s faces when they get their first look.
“We plan to take videos of children as the come in,” Gaudette said.
Town Council President Mark Sideris said the renovation turned out very nicely.
“This is the most beautiful renovation of a building I’ve seen in a long time,” Sideris said. “It is such a benefit for the children of the community.”
Paul DerBoghosian, a past president of the Boys & Girls Club Board, recalled that the project started smaller but grew in scope. He wanted to remove the hallway leading back into the staff offices to provide a more open floor plan, and others wanted a Teen Center.
“It went from $200,000 to $300,000 and ended up being a $1.5 million,” DerBoghosian said.
Current Boys & Girls Club Board President John Labadini said a great number of people helped make the project a success, including the Club’s staff, the Great Futures Campaign committee, past and present board of directors, the Town government, construction companies, local businesses and many more.
“It really is a testament to the community in which we live,” Labadini said, who added that they built a new clubhouse “from within.”
Key additions were the new secure entry way, a handicap accessible ramp, a new exterior facade, a new gym floor, a new pool deck and new floors and paint for the game room and kitchen area.
The outside of the building is strikingly different, which is something that past Board President Mark Tardiff wanted to see.
“You don’t just see a brick wall, anymore,” Tardiff said.
Part of the entry is the new ramp. Gaudette said the club had a ramp, but it was so steep that it did not meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations.
Walk in the front door and you are greeted by someone one at the front desk.
“Now if someone comes to the club they need to check you in,” DerBoghosian said. “So, they know who’s here.”
The new Teen Center is to the right, in the expanded front part of the building. This will be a place for teens to hang out, use computers for homework and other activities, and to be the leaders of the club.
“For the past 45 years the Boys & Girls Club did an outstanding job serving the youth of Watertown, but we knew we were not doing enough for teens,” Gaudette said.
The Club hired a teen director, Gaudette said, who has been researching programs and activities that have proven successful in other teen centers.
Find out more about the Watertown Boys & Girls Club at www.watertownbgc.org or call 617-926-0968.
See more photos from the newly renovated Watertown Boys & Girls Club below: