Boys and Girls Club could displace Alcoholics Anonymous

A request by the local Boys and Girls Club to manage a city-owned building could displace the Port Orchard chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous, which has used the building since before the city took ownership.

The Active Club, located at 1025 Tacoma St. in Port Orchard, is owned by the city, which in turn rents it to a variety of community groups.

Among the pet-oriented and community organizations, one room is reserved for the local AA group, which holds up to three meetings daily.

The ownership has caused some issues for the city, including the fact that rental rates do not cover the cost of building maintenance.

This led to a discussion between Mayor Lary Coppola and Port Orchard Police Chief Al Townsend examining the idea of the Boys and Girls Club taking over management of the building.

Townsend, who is also chairman of the Boys and Girls Club board, said the club will request building use rent-free, although the club would pay building and maintenance costs.

It would then take over the building with certain permanent activities and orchestrate the rental of the space to other community groups.

“We haven’t made any final decisions,” Townsend said. “We toured the facility earlier this week just to get an idea about what makes sense. We could have an activity room, and a computer room. It could be a teen center, or be open to all ages.”

Townsend said he had no opinion about sharing the facility, but admitted that turning it into a youth center might require AA to relocate just for space reasons.

According to county records, the building has a total of 8,520 square feet on two floors. It is valued at $727,840, although the city does not pay any property taxes.

The building came to the attention of the Port Orchard City Council at the Dec 8 meeting, when an AA representative requested use of the facility for 10 days over the holiday season for a round-the-clock “Alcathon” event.

The matter was discussed again at the Tuesday study session, during which several complaints about the building came to light.

Most of these had to do with how certain groups did not properly clean up after their activities.

According to a 1981 city council resolution, the building was donated to the city with the condition that it be made available to youth groups at no charge.

A 2006 action overturned the original resolution, establishing a few schedule for community groups.

If the Boys and Girls Club takes over the building and provides maintenance, this would comply with the intent of the 1981 resolution.

However, several AA members believe another condition exists — to always make the building is open for AA meetings.

On Wednesday, the AA was looking to find documents that support this belief, which it will present to the city at the appropriate time.

“We’ve been in that building for 50 years,” said an AA spokesman, who requested anonymity. “I don’t have any clue where we will go if we can’t use it anymore.”

Added another, “This place saved my life. Without it, I would not be able to stay clean.”

If the Boys and Girls Club takes over the building, AA will not be the only displaced group, a matter that concerns Port Orchard resident Gerri Harmon.

“Before entering into any agreement, the city should send out a letter to all the groups that use the building,” she said. “Before the Boys and Girls Club grabs the space, they should invite others to come in and say why it is important to them.”

The matter is scheduled to go before the Public Property Committee, which has yet to be scheduled.

After that, it will be addressed by the full council.

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