Land swap would benefit kids’ club - A boy is preparing food in a kitchen - Food

Key West, School District and Boys & Girls Club propose a deal

On Tuesday, Sept. 1, Key West Mayor Cates will propose a deal between the city, the Monroe County School District, and the Southernmost Boys and Girls Club of Key West. It has a lot of moving parts, but could ultimately benefit the organization that provides after school and summer care for more than 100 kids during the school year and 185 during the summer months.

“This would help the Boys and Girls Club,” Cates said, “something the city wants very much. We don’t want our children becoming latch-key kids, we want them interacting with one another and the community. The club is also a central piece of making Key West affordable for young families.”

The City of Key West is asking for the old Glenn Archer gymnasium from the school board, which retained it during the initial negotiations to deed the rest of the Glenn Archer property over to the town for a new city hall in 2013. The city proposes moving its facilities maintenance operation into the gym, and vacating one-half of a building at Bayview Park. The building at Bayview Park would then be renovated, a cost the city would absorb, to become permanent housing for the Boys and Girls Club.

“I’ve been director of this organization for 13 years and we’ve had to relocate four times during that period,” said Dan Dombroski, executive director. “It gets harder and harder. I can’t say how much this would mean to the club.”

Dombroski said it would be a major milestone for the club that has served generations of Key West residents. Currently the Southernmost Boys and Girls Club is housed at the old Reynolds School on a year-to-year lease and has been there almost two years. The Reynolds School, once a thriving elementary that has been partially decommissioned, is still in need of major renovations. According to Monroe County Superintendent of Schools Mark Porter, it could eventually serve as an early-learning center that would serve VPK (pre-kindergarten) students.

Monroe County School Board member John Dick, who also serves on the Boys and Girls Club board, said it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

“This solution would provide a more central location for the kids in the Boys and Girls Club, as most come from Horace O’Bryant School and could walk there. It also benefits the city because it can keep its vehicles close to its central office,” said Dick.

According to Cates, the building at Bayview Park was recently inspected and found to be generally sound. He said he would ask city staff to research the costs of rehabilitating the entire building to serve the children of the Southernmost Boys and Girls Club.

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