Groundbreaking on a new home for the Boys & Girls Club of Simi Valley may happen as early as Christmas after initial city approval of the $3.3-million project this week.
A City Council subcommittee that reviewed the club's financial plan Monday evening recommended that the council approve the long-delayed project in October.
"We're hoping to approve putting out construction bids at the same time," said Mayor Greg Stratton, also a member of the subcommittee. "Do it all in one fell swoop. I've been looking forward to this for a long time. This is a major happiness."
The project, initially slated for construction in 1992, has been held up by a dispute with CPC Enterprises, owner of adjacent property on Kadota Street.
CPC Enterprises called for an environmental review of the project, saying the club would block tenants' mountain views in its Park Plaza office complex. When the city approved the project without an environmental review, CPC Enterprises filed suit.
The lawsuit wound up before the state Supreme Court. But the court in May declined to hear it, opening the door for the project.
The club is now in an old elementary school building. It has a membership of about 2,000. About 150 children participate in after-school programs daily, according to club President Tim Shannon. During summers, 250 children crowd into the small building each day.
The Jan. 17 earthquake knocked out one of the main rooms in the school building, Stratton said, forcing the Boys & Girls Club into an even smaller space.
"They have been squished and they have been squashed into part of that school," he said.
Shannon said the new 25,000-square-foot club, which will include an arts and crafts room, a gymnasium and multipurpose rooms, will allow for more programs for teen-agers.
"We want to become much more aggressive with our teen programming," Shannon said. "The major reason we haven't is lack of space. When we do get into that new building we will become very aggressive."
Simi Valley will own the building and pay all of its $3.3-million price tag. But the club will pay $1.5 million to the city during a long-term lease.
Original plans called for the club to pay off the lease in 45 years, but the club now hopes to pay it off in only eight years.
Shannon said the club will soon begin a major fund-raising campaign to clear the obligation as early as possible.