By KAITLYN NAPLES
It is just a parking lot right now, but by this time next year the corner of West Street and Gaylord Street will be the site of the new Don Tinty Boys and Girls Club and Family Center.
The club has been raising money for the new facility for about three years, and had raised $8.6 million of the $11 million needed as of May. As of last week, the club had raised $9.4 million and executive director of the club, Michael Suchopar, said groundbreaking should happen in September. Once the funding reaches $10 million, construction can begin. Work pm the 38,000 square foot building is expected to take about 10 months to complete.
“We are on schedule right now,” Suchopar said, adding that the new facility will continue to produce “the best people” in Bristol, as it has in the last 100 years.
“Our organization has had some of the greatest history,” Suchopar said, and the new facility will “make sure we keep providing the city with great human beings for another 100 years.”
The new facility will be called the The Don Tinty Boys and Girls Club and Family Center, in honor of local philanthropist and owner of the Tinty’s Furniture store, Don Tinty. Tinty passed away in 2009. The Tinty Foundation donated $1.1 million to the projects campaign.
The new facility, which was designed by a company owned by “club kids” Amara Associations, will include an education and technology center, arts and crafts center, game room, a teen center, vocational kitchen, community rooms, a disaster center and also a 14,000 square foot field house, the first one of its kind in the state other than the ones found on college campuses.
Suchopar said the new building will be a place for adults as well, and will be able to be utilized by the senior center.
Just last year, ESPN gave an additional $1 million toward the project’s cost after donating $400,000 in 2009 for the club to purchase the land. Earlier this year, Walmart also donated $50,000, and other major donors include the Barnes family. State Representative Betty Boukus helped secure $2 million of state funding towards the project as well.
The new facility will be centrally located, Suchopar said, and will still be in the West End of Bristol, and not far from the Imagine Nation Children’s Museum. Also, the club’s gymnastics program will be moved to a location just down the street from the new facility.
“We are pretty much staying in the same area,” Suchopar said, and added that when the club was looking for locations, it felt the West Street spot would be perfect.
When the new facility is built, the current club building on Laurel Street will be vacant and put up for sale.
Throughout the school year, the Bristol Boys and Girls Club and Family Center provides services to 500 to 1,000 children each day and focuses on providing programs that focus on education, health and character development. The club also includes the Imagine Nation Museum and preschool program, ten school-based programs, and an Outreach Program at Cambridge Park.