Boys and Girls Club will not use rooms at Cooper Rec CenterPublished 8:23pm Monday, March 31, 2014
By Adam Powell
City council members, along with representatives from the Boys & Girls Club of the Lake Martin Area and the Cooper Recreation Center, met at the rec center on Friday to discuss space for the BGC.
For the past few years, the club has been using space in the Searcy Unit but, according to Executive Director Melissa Reynolds, the space was inadequate and was leaking and moldy.
This put the group on the lookout for new accommodations, and one of the first places they considered was the Cooper Recreation Center.
The club was interested in renting two rooms to host their roughly 40 kids and a slew of leadership, fitness and arts programs.
The club had met with local officials before on the issue but decided to hold a public forum on Friday to give people an opportunity to voice any concerns.
Council members Bobby Tapley and Sherry Ellison were in attendance but acted more or less as mediators for the meeting.
“One of the things this area is lacking, that we want to do, is programs to help teens,” Reynolds said. “There are a lot who aren’t graduating or are out walking the streets and the Boys and Girls Club can help.”
Mike Goggans spoke on behalf of Cooper and voiced concerns about space first. With so many programs going on at the center, space is limited. The center provides activities for children, as well as space for teens to exercise and play sports, but it also offers services to others in the community.
According to Goggans, the space being looked at is currently being used as locker rooms for athletes, as well as a place for “struggling community members” to shower.
“We’ll be out of commission as far as changing rooms and showers and stuff like that,” Goggans said. “That’s really the only problem we’re running into.”
However, that wasn’t the only problem they ran into.
Community members began voicing concerns about the different demographics that use the rec center, as opposed to those involved with the Boys and Girls Club.
“You know, guys in here playing, we have a no cursing policy,” Goggans said. “But when you get adults in here playing, you’ll hear some. People in your organization might not be used to that.”
The meeting got decidedly heated as the majority of attendees were opposed to the Boys and Girls Club’s move.
According to one attendee, Teresa Moten, the rec center serves, “a different kind of kid” than the Boys and Girls Club.
“We were really just asking to use two rooms,” Reynolds said. “Really, it’s just about these kids.”
After about 30 minutes of discussion, questions and debate, no headway was made and the Boys and Girls Club was denied access to the rec center.
“We’re going to keep looking for a new place,” Reynolds said after the meeting. “We’ll talk to some churches and just go from there. We won’t give up.”