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Ardmore Boys & Girls Club to move locations, address safety violations

(KXII)
Published: Jun. 17, 2019 at 6:23 PM CDT
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The Boys and Girls Club of the Red River Valley in Ardmore has had summer programs in it's recently acquired building since the first week of June, but it will soon be in a new location as it works to correct several building code violations.

However, staff said this bump in the road will not stop the mission of serving kids.

Area director Larry Long said the Ardmore location on Maxwell Street NW has had 125 kids register for programs, seeing about 80 kids a day, with that number expected to grow.

"The building's a great building," Long said. "The kids are having a great time. We're really fortunate to have a building for the kids here in Ardmore."

An Ardmore resident acquired the building for the club to use with the club only paying the cost of utilities.

Ardmore city officials said they knew the building had safety concerns but did not know the Boys and Girls Club was moving in until they heard about it from news media.

Kevin Boatright, asst. city manager, said they talked to Long and the owner in a meeting on Thursday, presenting the issues.

"The safety of the children was paramount to us," Boatright said.

Fire and safety violations included not having a sprinkler system, fire alarm or emergency lighting.

Ardmore city code states buildings of 12,000 square feet or more need to have a sprinkler system.

The current Boys and Girls Club is 18,000 square feet.

There were also issues with the number of handicapped-accessible restrooms and ventilation on a gas-powered water heater.

Officials also sugested places where operations could move to in the mean time, such as the HFV Wilson Community Center.

Long said on Wednesday they will move operations to the Ardmore YMCA, with tentative plans to move to Take Two Academy while repairs are made to the club.

"A lot of our kids come from rough situations and they need someone to stand up for them," Long said. "So we appreciate the people that'd been standing up."

Long said the building owner is working on gathering grants to pay for the new safety features.

Long said they did not have any specific dates for when the building additions would be complete. However, city officials said the process of drawing plans, getting them approved and doing the work could take weeks, if not months.