Published on 5/22/2018 @ 6:53 p.m.
HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Residents of a Hampton neighborhood are concerned about the future of their local Boys and Girls Club.
According to The Boys & Girls Club of the Virginia Peninsula, the City of Hampton approached them in May of 2017 about needing a location for a new fire station in the Shell Road area to replace the aging Wythe Fire Station.
They wanted to buy the land that houses the Shell Road Boys and Girls Club.
But the organization declined the offer at the time in order to continue serving more youth in Hampton, according to a statement by president and CEO Hal Smith.
However, when a club opened in Buckroe in April, according to the same statement, the organization decided to take up the city’s offer to address the public safety need and possibly plan for the new fire station.That has some residents upset about the possibility of getting rid of the club.“It’s a place of comfort,” said Brandon Dickerson, a local youth athletics coach.
Dickerson grew up using the facility and many of his players still use it.
He said he found out about the proposal to build the fire station about a month ago.
“When we heard it, we were like we gotta do something,” he said.
Dickerson and Shamika Barnes, who also coaches, are hoping to keep something in the area because they believe it keeps kids out of trouble.
“It’s just about giving the kids something to do. With everything that’s going on, they’re falling to the streets, guns and drugs. We need to give them something to do,” she said.
The two have been brainstorming ideas, including raising money to renovate the facility.
They hope other organizations can also step in and provide community programs, in case the center is shut down.
Both believe that traveling all the way to Buckroe to use that club is too far for many parents.
“We have parents that walk up here to pick up their children. Removing this, where are our children going to go?” Barnes asked.
The Boys and Girls Club is working with the city to come up with ways to continue to provide resources, according to Smith.
They’re hoping to either have a community room inside the new facility or another center built behind the fire station.
A community meeting will be held on June 12 at 6:30 p.m. at 6th at Sixth House.
Dickerson and Barnes encourage people to show up.
They will also be holding an event at the Boys and Girls Club this Saturday from 2 to 7 p.m.
The City of Hampton sent 10 On Your Side this statement about the issue:
“Hampton has been looking for a new site for a replacement for the aged Wythe Fire Station that is more central to the area it serves. We approached the Boys & Girls Clubs some time ago to see if we could find a way to swap land or facilitate a replacement facility for them in the area. However, they declined and we have been looking elsewhere.
More recently, they came back and indicated they plan to sell their property and relocate programming to Buckroe because of the significant investments they would need to make to the facility. They indicated they would take money from the sale of the property and reinvest it in services for youth. They further indicated that this was the plan whether the City or a private entity was the purchaser.
The City has not finalized a deal, although the site would indeed meet our needs. However, our first goal has been to try secure their commitment to both a short and long term presence in the neighborhood.”