Youth center in the works

Rec center for September

It has been a long time coming, but local youths will only have to wait a few weeks longer for a new recreation center, Granville Police Benevolent Association members announced last week.

The PBA revealed the reason for the newspaper covering the windows at the Furniture Weekend building on Main Street is the work taking places inside – on a youth recreation center.

PBA President Dave Williams gave a tour of the recreation center, which will open sometime in middle September or early October.

“We’re very excited about offering this service and getting this started. We’re proud to be part of the youth services in the area and look forward to providing a place to go and have fun after school that’s safe,” Williams said.

Williams said the recreation center will offer a free after-school program for kids as well as a new location for the PBA dances.

The after-school program will be open to kids from third grade to seniors and run from 2:30 until 6:30 or 7 p.m.

The PBA entered into an agreement with building owner Bud Scott to lease the building to own.

“He worked with us; he’s been great. Bud liked the idea a lot and thought that it would be good for Granville,” Williams said.

Scott said he and his wife, Deirdre, supported the idea. “It’s a great idea and they seem very enthusiastic about it so we’re working with them – bending a little – and working with them,” Scott said.

The recreation center idea was not a new one; it had just never come together until now. “We were always looking for a big enough space,” Williams said. With the former furniture store, the PBA now has more than 12,000 square feet for children to play in. Williams said PBA members have wanted to provide a place for children to go after school where can have something to do in a supervised, safe area.

Keeping kids out of trouble can be as simple as offering them something they would like to do, he said, a lesson many department members learned as local volunteer coaches.

Williams said he is not alone in the belief that youths who keep busy also stay out of trouble. He was hoping the recreation center would be a positive influence by giving kids a place to find something constructive to do.

“We’re looking forward to being a part of offering a wide array of services to give kids something to do; kids have the skate park, the swimming program, town summer rec and now the rec center,” Williams said.

Work began just a few days ago with the installation of interior walls and preparation of the floors for the rec center.

New walls close in a lobby area that will allow children to wait for parents or get in out of the winter weather when they arrive for dances.

Williams said in addition to adding a food counter, the recreation center will have a dedicated dance floor for the PBA dances, game rooms for television video games and pool and ping pong.

The PBA plans to have separate areas for younger children and older ones to play age-appropriate video games on Wii and Xbox-type games systems when the dances are not taking place.

The food counter will have light fare, including hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, sodas and pizza.

A separate part of the space will be set aside with tables and chairs as a quiet place where youths can do homework during the after-school program, complete with a WiFi connection for Internet access.

The idea of creating a recreation center had been circulating in the PBA for several years, Williams said.

The group had hoped for some time to provide other services for area youths, but had no place to do it. Previously plans to put the recreation center into the space now occupied by the Label Shopper store failed to come together.

The PBA works in conjunction with the Hook & Ladder fire Company to put on youth dances as a fundraiser for both groups and has for many years, Williams said.

That won’t change, he said, but the location will when the recreation center opens its doors. With a separate location that is not a full-time firehouse, Williams said, it will allow for holding more dances.

Brian LaRose will continue to volunteer his time as a disc jockey for some of the dances, Williams said.

The PBA plans to respond to a concern voiced by many parents about the ages of the youths mixing at the dances.

New dances will be subdivided into grades 3-5, grades 6-8 and grades 9-12. The new dance space will feature a DJ booth and computerized lighting.

The large downstairs space will not be used for the recreation center at this point, Williams said, with it likely becoming a training area for the police and fire departments. The recreation center is a PBA function; no village money or taxpayer funds are involved, Williams said. The PBA is a not-for-profit service organization associated with the Granville Police Department that donates funds to local charities. 

The recreation center does not yet have a phone number, but Williams said but it will be announced in a later edition of the Granville Sentinel.

Williams said youths could expect a Web site sometime soon with the address to be announced.