ENDICOTT N.Y. – Broome County is looking to restore child care and other services to the former Boys and Girls Club in Endicott by first leasing the building.
County Executive Jason Garnar was joined by other local leaders today to announce a new lease agreement with the Boys and Girls Club of Western Broome which abruptly announced that it was shutting down two weeks ago.
The county will lease the facility near U-E High School for $1 per month for up to six months.
Broome will then use money from its contingency fund to pay the utilities on the building so that it doesn’t fall into disrepair.
Members of Broome Security will also patrol the area to keep it safe.
Garnar says this buys the county some time as it works with local non-profits to come in and resume the former services.
“We’re doing this for the kids here. Our kids out here depend on us to be able to replace these programs ad services out here. It’s a huge loss and we’re doing everything we can possible,” he says.
Officials say anywhere from 150 to 200 kids relied on the club for after-school programs both at the facility and in satellite locations in the U-E and M-E school districts.
Those districts have been funding the programs on a temporary basis since the start of the year.
Town of Union Supervisor Rick Materese served as the club’s director from 2012 to 2017.
He says financial pressures were already mounting back then.
He says the club has had its funding from the United Way steadily diminished from $286,000 in 2003 to just $63,000 this year.
Plus, minimum wage increases and increasing need in the community made balancing the books a struggle.
“The amount of income going down and the amount of expenses going up, it’s a recipe for disaster. So, we were just basically treading water,” he said.
The club has leased space to Life Is Washable, the organization that operates the Magic Paintbrush Project and Creat-able programs.
Business Office Coordinator and founder Jen O’Brien says her organization paid the most recent utility bill to keep the lights on.
She believes the club’s Board of Directors were taken by surprise by the severity of the financial crisis and acted in good faith.
“They’re good people. And I think they were faced with a very difficult decision. And nobody ever wants to be in that position when you’re out there trying to help kids and serving the community,” she said.
O’Brien says she plans to keep Life Is Washable, and her other organization, American Special Hockey Association, in the building if a new owner can be found.
And she credits Garnar with his leadership on the issue.
Garnar says the county is in contact with a number of local organizations about taking over the operations.