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Alameda Boys and Girls Club $2 Million Request Sparks a Debate Amongst Citizens

By Erica Madison

On Tuesday 1, 2009, the Alameda Boys and Girls Club asked City Council members to divert $2 Million from a park grant known as Measure WW.

Measure WW was passed by the citizens of Alameda in November of 2008. The Measure awarded the city a grant for $3.46 million, which is funded by the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD).

At a City Council meeting on Tuesday night, Councilwoman Lena Tam referred the Alameda Boys and Girls Club for a request to allocate $2 million dollars from Measure WW.

The money will go towards a new recreation center, built on the Woodstock school site.

“I believe this is a unique opportunity for private funding.” said Council member Lena Tam. “For every dollar the city gives we will receive $4 through the Boys and Girls Club.”

Several mothers, father, and volunteers, came to the meeting to show their support.

Volunteer, after volunteer, spoke before council members about how the Boys and Girls Club changed their lives, and the lives of their children.

“It’s really a community youth development center.”

“Our facility is designed to serve the community.”

“This funding goes further and better than the options you have.” said President of the Alameda chapter of the Boys and Girls Club, Corey Mathews.

Not only will there be a Boys and Girls club, the recreation center will serve as a joint use facility. Among the many partners who are joining with the Boys and Girls Club is Alameda family services, which will provide psychiatric services on site. Other partners include: Alameda Unified School District, Alameda Youth Basketball, Alameda Family Services , Alameda Civic Light Opera , Alameda Point Collaborative , East Bay Regional Parks , Alameda County Regional Occupation Program , Alameda Adult School , Cal State University East Bay,  and Peralta Community Colleges.

However time is of the essence for the Boys and Girls club. The club already has $2 million in grant money they will forfeit if they don’t use it by the end of the 2009.

“Approval of this amount ($2 million) will allow us to start in 4-6 weeks.” said a Boys and Girls Club employee.

However, not everyone shared enthusiasm for this allocation.

Several members of the community opposing the allocation spoke before the council members as well. Although many said they supported the Boys and Girls club, they felt that Measure WW was for parks instead of private entities.

“I didn’t know measure WW would go a private entity.”

“This is public money going to a private entity.” said John Turney. “I feel like it’s (Measure WW) been short circuited from what we wanted.”

“Even if they don’t receive the $2 million they can still build the center” said Dorothy Freeman. “They simply don’t need our tax dollars.”

Freeman also mentioned that the Boys and Girls Club is not a poor foundation. In 2007 the Boys and Girls Club corporation, reported an annual earning of $357 million.

Despite this council members seem eager to pass the request.

Vice Mayor Doug deHaan, mentioned that the city already has invested money in the projected for a subsequent redevelopment.

But the council members delayed making a decision, because they had many unanswered questions.

For instance Council member Frank Matarrese wanted to know, if the $2 million would be for helping the club finish the project.

Council member Marie Gilmore, pointed out that all the speculation was a waste of time, if they couldn’t ascertain whether or not the East Bay Regional Park District would approve the project.

A unanimous vote was passed to have staff review the case, and present an oral report on their findings at the next City Council meeting.

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