FOUNTAIN VALLEY : Grant Moves Club Closer to a Reality

For eight years, a sign has stood on the site of a planned Boys & Girls Club to let people know that the 19,000-square-foot facility will be built.

Club executive director Chris Schneider said that within months, walls, a roof and doors will be constructed on the slab of concrete--now the only telltale sign that the $1.5-million Fountain Valley club has not been forgotten.

The club has been in the making since 1985 and is closer to becoming a reality because of a recent $250,000 grant to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Huntington Valley from the county Board of Supervisors.

"With these dollars we can get to the next stage," Schneider said. "This money is going to put us over the hump to get the construction going so people will see something tangible."

Supervisor Roger R. Stanton, a former Fountain Valley mayor whose 1st District includes the city, requested that the County Urban Park Grant be awarded to the club.

"It came at a really good time," said Bob Hoxsie, president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Huntington Valley, which operates clubs in Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley. "This came as a real surprise, and it's definitely going to save the project; we couldn't have asked for anything more. It's kind of like winning the lottery."

The Fountain Valley club, which has a membership of 650 youths, currently leases space at Arthur D. Nieblas School. With the new club, Hoxsie said, attendance is expected to double.

The new facility will include a high school regulation-size gymnasium, multipurpose theater, game rooms, teen center, resource center, community meeting room, kitchen, crafts room, counseling center and photography lab.

The club will be built on a one-acre section of a park owned by the city, off Brookhurst Street and Heil Avenue.

Foundation work was started last fall, said Schneider, but hit a snag.

"When (workers) started drilling the pilings for the foundation, they hit water because the area is in a flood plane zone," he said.

As a result, Schneider said, plans for the foundation and footings were sent back to engineers--at an additional cost of $230,000.

"We had the funds to complete the new engineering and pour the foundation, but once we finished, our funds were low, and we didn't have the funds to continue," he said.

So far, Schneider said, about $500,000 has been spent on the project.

To date, Schneider said, the club has received $995,000 in donations and grants for the project and pledges of $292,000.

Schneider said the unexpected engineering expenses increased the cost of the project from $1.2 million to $1.5 million.

As a result, the club now faces a $250,000 shortfall to complete the interior.

"I hope we get the additional (financial) support to finish the project because people will be able to see something physical out there," he said.

The club is expected to receive the county grant within a few weeks. Construction will take about six months, Schneider said.

"It's been a long, tedious haul, but the end is in sight," Schneider said.

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