Pigeon Forge Boys & Girls Club building nears reality

Apr. 04, 2014 @ 11:43 PM

The proposed new Boys & Girls Club building in Pigeon Forge could start construction by the end of the year or early next year, according to Jim Arwood, chairman of the building committee for the club. Currently the Boys & Girls Club meets at the back of the City Hall complex. The new building site is to be behind the Pigeon Forge community center.

"It's been a long time coming, but we're there," Arwood said. "Hopefully we get the lease finalized, and that will allow us to move on. We've got a base of donors that we're working with, and we'd like to get at least 50 percent of our anticipated money in the bank before we kick it off. That way it will give a good boost when we start. We hope by the fall to have our campaign wrapped up."

The estimated cost of the building is $1.5 million. Arwood said that Community Development Director David Taylor didn't see any major problems with the proposed buildings.

"We've taken it to the planning commission to make sure they didn't have any hiccups or any problems there," Arwood said. "David kind of gave me his blessing on it."

On Wednesday afternoon, city commissioners were shown a preliminary floor plan of the proposed new building, and they plan to review the lease agreement at the next commission meeting.

"I think it's a win-win for everybody," Commissioner Howard Reagan said. "You all needed it, and we could use the space here."

The floor plan would be similar to that of the Gatlinburg Boys and Girls Club building, although some changes would be made to make the building fit the new location.

"We want to blend in and be part of the neighborhood," Arwood said. "Our architecture, we want to kind of match the City Hall look. We'll have the blue roof and the same brick, same color used on that building, so we'll color coordinate and try to blend in."

Arwood said he thinks it's the perfect location for a new building. "We looked at another site at the other end of town, but this site just works very well," he said. "It's right there next to the school, so those kids can just come right on over and not have to be bused in. We can also utilize the facilities right there at the community center, and the city can utilize our facilities if needed."

Buses will park behind the building, and parking spots will be available in the front. The building would support up to 200 kids. It would be about 16,000 square feet and include a gymnasium, a game area, an office area, meeting rooms, an arts and crafts room, a kitchen area and a learning center, which will include a computer lab.

"One thing we'll have is a teen room that will service approximately 62 teens at one time," Arwood said. "That's a growing part of what we're doing right now, working with teens, their career future and what might help them, like job interviews. That's a very vital part of what we do right now, and it's something we're excited about."

jold@themountainpress.com