Youth Center for sale

T he Granville Police Benevolent Association has put its youth center up for sale.
Sergeant Dave Williams said a lack of interest combined with mounting bills has forced the organization’s hand.
“At this point it’s difficult to meet our bills on it. We’re hurting so we’re begrudgingly and reluctantly closing the doors,” Williams said.
For the time being, the center will continue to host Saturday evening dances, but volunteers have ceased all Friday night events.
Williams said the primary reason for putting the building up for sale is waning interest.
When the PBA first began holding dances 15 years ago (the dances were initially held at the Hook and Ladder firehouse) as many as 400 kids would attend. While those numbers did begin to decline, anywhere from 200 to 300 kids still attended the dances when they were moved to the youth center five years ago. The dances now draw between 10 and 15 kids.
“It’s frustrating,” Williams said.
The center used to hold an after school program when it first opened in 2010 and initially the program was successful.
“We were getting 50 to 75 kids a day,” Williams said.
But after a year-and-a-half, attendance dropped and the cost of electricity and heating the building, which was as high as $1,800 a month during the winter, became too much. Williams said volunteers tried to sell drinks and refreshment to generate a little revenue to offset those costs, but the final week of the program they hadn’t collected a single dollar.
Hoping to drum up interest, volunteers tried creating a suggestion box so they could they could better cater to kids interests, but many of the ideas were out of the scope of the organization’s ability.
“They would say we want Eminem. They didn’t realize some of the things they were asking for cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Williams said.
Williams attributed the declining interest to a number of factors. He said one thing members didn’t anticipate were class issues. He said the center was labeled by some kids as a place low-income kids went. That perception, he feels, may have kept some kids away.
He also said attendance was hurt by many of the same issues that have plagued involvement in Little League and other youth sports.
“People are spread out across more programs. Little League is down, involvement in school sports is down. It’s no different for us. We are victims of the same socioeconomic issues,” Williams said.
There were also complaints from some parents that kids at the center were using drugs, but Williams said those allegations were frustrating. He said the center was like anywhere else, including school, and that things like that happen, but the center was chaperoned by members of the PBA and volunteers were “militant about enforcing” a zero tolerance policy.
The PBA is asking $99,900 for the 8,500-plus square foot building, which according to Washington County Real Property is the same amount the organization paid for it when they purchased the building.
Williams said that asking price would allow the PBA to pay the remaining balance of a 10-year mortgage on the property and any other debts associated with the building. The building has an advanced sprinkler system, access to utilities, street frontage and office space on the second floor.
Williams, who said the center was established to give kids a safe place to be, indicated that if money wasn’t an issue, the center could possibly stay open.
“If we hit the lottery tomorrow we would keep it open, even if it were for just 20 kids,” he said.
He said the organization is open to suggestions from the community if residents have ideas of how the center could become successful again or were interested in renting some of the second floor office space.
“We’re still hopeful. We’ll just have to see,” Williams said.

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