Wellington OKs Bid For New Boys & Girls Club

The Wellington Boys & Girls Club is getting a new home after the Wellington Village Council unanimously approved a $3.6 million construction contract Tuesday, Feb. 28.

The new digs, which will be built adjacent to Wellington’s water treatment plant site on Wellington Trace, will help serve more children.

Director of Operations Jim Barnes said that the 22,570-square-foot facility would be three times the size of the current club site on South Shore Blvd. Though originally estimated to cost between $2.9 and $3 million two years ago, several factors made the building more costly.

The project will cost just under $3.6 million and is expected to be completed sometime next year. “Part of it is just the current construction market,” Barnes said.

The contract was awarded to MBR Construction of Fort Lauderdale. According to the staff report, MBR was chosen from six applicants because it offered the lowest bid and pledged to assign more than 50 percent of the proposed price of the work to Palm Beach County vendors and subcontractors.

Of the financing, more than $2 million is already in place. Private donors contributed $1 million; Palm Beach County will kick in $600,000; and Wellington agreed to fund $700,000 of the project as well as provide a no-interest loan for the $1.3 million balance to be paid back over 10 years.

Mary O’Connor, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, said that the club has served thousands of Wellington children for the past 25 years.

“We are so excited about this,” she said. “We have been waiting for a long time for this day to come, and now we are waiting for the day when we can open the club.”

O’Connor said that Wellington, with its small club, turns away more children than any other club in the county.

“We serve 525 children in that little tiny club,” she said. “The facility would not allow us to take on more kids. This new building is a phenomenal facility. It will allow us to do so many things. It will have a state-of-the-art computer lab, a dance studio, a science lab, a teen center and a junior center.”

Getting the new facility built so the club can reach more needy children is crucial, O’Connor said.

“Kids don’t wait,” she said. “They just grow up. The kids we serve at the club, the majority would go home after school, would be unsupervised and would be at risk. Our goal is to raise enough dollars so that we don’t have to turn kids away.”

The new club will also be able to serve teenagers, something that O’Connor said is highly needed.

“The teen population is a forgotten generation,” she said. “We will be able to provide them with the services they want and need.”

During public comment, resident Sam Nebb asked what would happen to the old facility. Village Manager Paul Schofield said that the property is a significant part of Wellington’s recreation program.

“There is a deed restriction on the land that says it may only be used for a public purpose,” he said. “We simply could not run the recreation programs we have without that park.”

Council members approved the contract unanimously to a chorus of applause from the audience.

“I just want to see really heavy equipment on that property as soon as possible,” O’Connor said.