By the end of 2022, there will be a new place for middle schoolers to play basketball, soccer, and volleyball.
Thanks to federal grant money, construction on a $1.4 million gym is expected to begin later this year at the Joseph F. Walters location of the Boys & Girls Clubs, 2094 Memorial Park Drive. The new addition means that students from area middle schools will now be able to attend.
The Joseph F. Walters club was built in 2010 and serves about 100 students from Lyman Hall Elementary, all of whom are Hispanic and live in a “very high poverty area,” said Chelsea Clark, grants and development administrator for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lanier. But once those students graduate elementary school, they don’t have an afterschool club they can attend.
The new gymnasium will remedy that problem, Clark said, and will allow the club to accommodate 170 total students.
“What happens is those kids, they go out of fifth grade and we don't have a teen center on that side of town, so they don't really have anywhere to go after school,” Clark said. “So we really wanted to be able to continue the service for those families.”
The middle schools include Johnson, West Hall and North Hall.
In late September, Gov. Brian Kemp announced that more than $43 million in Community Development Block Grants will be awarded to 60 local governments to help improve their communities. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated the annual funds to Georgia’s CDBG program, which is administered by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Lanier will receive $750,000 in grant money for the new gym, and it plans to raise money from local donors for the remaining amount.
Construction on the 6,200-square-foot-building is expected to begin late this year and finish by the end of next year. A construction company has not been hired yet.
Clark said the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lanier has a strong relationship with the county.
“We’ve had a good relationship with Hall County for a long time and we approached them and said, ‘Hey, we know that you all have the opportunity to apply for this funding. Would you consider Boys & Girls Club and partnering with us for this funding so we can expand our service to serve kids in the community where it's most needed,” Clark said.