Northside Boys and Girls Club expansion project moving forward

Students, staff moved back into building on Monday

The expansion project for the Boys and Girls Club on the Northside of La Crosse hit a major milestone today.

While the expansion project is not complete, students and staff spent Monday moving back into their newly remodeled building.

The goal of the project is to create a bigger space for their growing teen population, and organizers said it’s been a long time coming.

Mike Desmond of the Boys and Girls Club says about 100 kids make this place their second home.

Those numbers, particularly teens, continues to climb.

“Our average daily attendance, which are kids that really come on a daily basis, has grown over 50 percent in the last three years,” Desmond said.

Organizers said their previous teen space wasn’t meeting demand.

“At one point it was a storage closet,” Teigen Haye, site director of the location, said.

“The whole thing got started because we needed more teen space,” Desmond said.

By the time the project is complete, organizers estimate the project will increase the size of the building by 12,000 square feet.

“We’ve taken a 30 year(-old) building, and if you walked in here, it looks new. It feels new,” Desmond said.

Workers said the new space will have plenty of new features for kids of all ages.

“We’ll have a dance studio. We’ll also have a recording studio,” Haye said. “(We’ll have) another gym, we definitely need that, and just the space in general. It will be modernized for the kids.”

While the move-in may be a challenge, organizers said the project helps fill a big need in the community.

“We anticipate that once the new teen center is built, the teen population, which was about anywhere from 30-60 teens, will double,” Desmond said.

“If we can serve more kids, and get more kids in the door, it will be just good for the youth and the community as a whole,” Haye said.

Organizers said the project as a whole should be completed by October or November.

The total cost for the expansion is about $7 million. The Boys and Girls Club is continuing to raise funds to cover that cost.

Currently, they are about one million short of their goal.

Anyone willing to help donate is urged to contact the Boys and Girls Club to learn more.