It looks like Yuma is getting back an official Boys and Girls Club.

The Yuma City Council introduced an ordinance authorizing a lease agreement with the Phoenix-based Boys and Girls Clubs of the Valley for city-owned property located at 1100 S. 13th Ave.

In January 2020, the council leased the property, called the Vic Smith Boy and Girls Center, to the Housing Authority of Yuma, which agreed to provide after-school programming for the community through the SHINE Program.

“HACY stepped in and provided a much-needed service in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic,” a staff report noted.

However, in December, HACY notified the city that it would no longer provide after-school programming at the center after the end of the 2021/2022 school year. While HACY will not be offering the SHINE Program at the center, it will continue to offer the program on a smaller scale at its housing facilities.

Recognizing the importance of after-school and summer programming to the community, city leaders reached out to the Boys and Girls Club of the Valley to determine interest in opening a club at the Yuma center and the steps involved in opening a new club location.

The Phoenix club expressed “strong interest” in opening a Yuma location.

Under the proposed lease, the Boys and Girls Club would lease the property from the city for $1 per month and operate the Yuma location under the umbrella of the Phoenix club. The initial lease is for four years with a one-year renewal term available.

If the council approves the lease agreement, the Boys and Girls Club will begin operating in midsummer, in conjunction with the start of the new school year. The ordinance is up for adoption at the next regular meeting scheduled for July 6.

A staff report noted that the Phoenix-based club has been providing affordable after-school and summer programs consistent with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America for more than 75 years.

The “affordable” out-of-school programming for young people in grades K-12 meet the needs of families in the community, the report added.

The club offers programming in “a safe, positive, fun environment for kids” focused on four priority areas: academic success; good character and leadership; healthy lifestyle; and career pathways and workforce readiness.

In addition, the club would develop unique programming that meets the needs of the Yuma community.

In February 2020, HACY took over the center as a result of a settlement agreement in a lawsuit between the city and the Salvation Army. The agreement called for the city to reacquire the property which at that time housed the Boys and Girls Club.

The city sued the Salvation Army after it announced plans to sever its affiliation with the Boys and Girls Club. The announcement angered residents who had donated to a $1.6 million capital fundraising campaign to enlarge the club facilities. A new building and renovated older building were dedicated in October 2016.

Donors claimed that the Salvation Army never mentioned that the affiliation or building use could change and asked the city to take the lead in legal action against the nonprofit. In a lawsuit filed in December 2018, the city claimed that the Salvation Army’s decision to end its affiliation with the club violated the terms of the agreement which transferred the city-owned property to the nonprofit in January 2003.

Donors were happy with the HACY takeover. However, the Boys and Girls Club of America had placed a moratorium on new charters so its center couldn’t be an official affiliation. Nevertheless, SHINE tried to “emulate” the club’s traditional programs as well as introduce additional programs.

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