Rebuilding Boys & Girls Clubs

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County can trace its history to 1946, when its only site was a Quonset hut in Everett. Now, the organization has launched a multimillion-dollar capital campaign to build and renovate clubs in Snohomish County and beyond.

Topping the list of goals is a new Mukilteo Boys & Girls Club to be built near Kamiak High School. Mukilteo’s club is now in a 1920 building on Second Street in the city’s Old Town area.

Bill Tsoukalas, executive director of Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County, said earlier this month that the campaign, with a target of about $12 million, also aims to build a new club in Granite Falls, where the club lost its lease and left town in 2005; renovate the Arlington club, doubling its size; and build new clubs in Coupeville and Kingston.

Work has started on the Mukilteo site, east of Kamiak at 11600 47th Ave. W.

That property, more than 12 acres originally belonging to the state Department of Natural Resources, was paid for by $2.3 million in state capital funds. The purchase was approved by the Legislature in 2005 with the help of then-Rep. Brian Sullivan. A former mayor of Mukilteo, Sullivan is now a Snohomish County Council member.

Tsoukalas said the organization’s size has nearly quadrupled since he became its chief in 1992. Almost 18,000 children and teens are now served by 14 clubs and 18 extension sites in Snohomish County. The agency also oversees two Island County clubs, in Oak Harbor and Coupeville, and the Kitsap County club in Kingston.

Over the years, Tsoukalas said, the original mission as an after-school place has expanded. Today, many clubs serve meals, from breakfast to dinner. The agency provides transportation from schools. Computer labs, teen rooms, athletic programs, summer day camps and homework help are all offered by Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County, which has as many as 300 employees depending on the season.

“We want to make it an easy, accessible, affordable neighborhood club,” Tsoukalas said.

The agency operates with what he called a “mixed bag” of revenue — club memberships, auction proceeds and a charity golf tournament. A big goal of the campaign is to boost contributions from individual donors.

The organization’s board of directors decided in late April to launch the campaign after reviewing results of a feasibility study by Texas-based Diversified Nonprofit Services LLC. Tsoukalas said the study, which cost $21,000, surveyed 60 people in area communities.

“The results were very positive,” he said, adding that those surveyed included many potential donors.

He said the campaign’s best-case goal is about $14.2 million, while the study found that $11 million to $12 million was a realistic target.

The site of the new Mukilteo club, which includes playfields and wetlands, was given to the city of Mukilteo with the stipulation that it only be used by a youth organization.

“Essentially, the state constitution says you cannot gift public funds,” Sullivan said.

Mukilteo Mayor Joe Marine said Wednesday that the club will pay the city $1 a year in rent.

Sullivan explained that “there’s a trade-off, if the Boys & Girls Club provides a value that is equal to or greater than market rent.”

Sullivan, who tried to acquire the property for the city when he was mayor in the 1990s, said the land was in the state’s school trust fund. The deal went through during the 2005 legislative session, he said. Money was taken from the state’s capital budget to pay the school trust fund.

Marine said it’s possible the Boys & Girls Club will also continue to operate at its old Mukilteo site, built in 1920 and first used as the Royal Neighbors Hawthorne Hall. It’s been a Boys & Girls Club since 1961.

The Mukilteo YMCA is near the Boys & Girls Club’s new home. Marine said the organizations’ proximity makes sense, being close to schools and providing complementary services. The Y has a skate park and pool, which the new club won’t have. The new site is near several large apartment complexes that provide subsidized housing to low-income families, Sullivan said.

Architect Ryan Ellinghaus, of the Everett firm 2812 Architecture, said the new 23,500-square-foot Mukilteo club will have two baseball fields and two multi-use play fields.

Sullivan said an additional $250,000 from a fund in the state capital budget intended for youth programs has been used to clear and grade the site.

If the money comes through, Ellinghaus said, the club could be finished by the end of 2012.

Tsoukalas said another pet project is a new club for Granite Falls, which now has no Boys & Girls Club. The agency left town after losing its lease in 2005, he said.

And the Arlington club, opened in 1992, doesn’t have a teen center, a computer lab or a second gym. With the area’s rapid growth, Tsoukalas said those are real needs.

In Coupeville and Kingston, he said, clubs are now under his agency’s umbrella. A new Kingston club would be built on surplus Navy property given to that city.

Tsoukalas said he’s had calls from all over the area.

“As families moved in, there weren’t a lot of places for kids outside of schools,” he said.

The hope is to provide activities for children of all ages in places kids want to be.

“It’s not rocket science,” Tsoukalas said.

Sullivan, 53, grew up in Mukilteo. He walked from the old Rosehill School to the Boys & Girls Club every day.

“I can only speak for myself,” he said. “It saved my life.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460;

Wish list

Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County has launched drive to raise about $12 million with a goal of building or renovating several clubs. On the wish list:

•Mukilteo Boys & Girls Club: new facility near Kamiak High School, $3.5 million.

Arlington Boys & Girls Club: expand club opened in 1992, roughly doubling size, $1.25 million.

Granite Falls: build new facility. Granite Falls Boys & Girls Club lost its lease in 2005, $1.5 million.

Outside Snohomish County: build new clubs in Coupeville and Kingston, $1 million each.

Other money would contribute to an endowment fund and be set aside as reserve.

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