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YOUTH

Boys & Girls Clubs expanding to Len Colla Center, city taking over soccer

The agreement, in brief:


• The city Recreation Division will manage the local soccer program.

• The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sun Corridor will provide after-school and summer programming using similar hours to their current clubs, which are expanded to the times the city operated the Len Colla Center.

• At full capacity, 150 children would be served daily.

• The city would fund the program $60,000 a year for the next five years. This represents approximately a 50 percent  savings from the city's previous years operating costs.

• The city will fund the program an additional $31,200 a year for the next three years to provide no-cost programming to members of the community who have previously attended the Len Colla Center. Thereafter, membership would be evaluated based on the Boys & Girls Clubs membership model. Those qualifying for a full or partial scholarship would receive a discounted membership fee.

• The city will continue to provide custodial and maintenance services for the facility.

• Programming hours will expand as the Boys & Girls Clubs opens from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. in the summer.

• The city will continue to have access to the Len Colla Center on a space-available basis for recreational programming when the Boys & Girls Clubs is not in operation.


(Posted July 9, 2021)



The staff report is HERE


The city press release is HERE


Video of the session is HERE  Click on Item I.4


Boys & Girls Clubs website is HERE


Boys & Girls Clubs Facebook page is HERE


Community Services Department website is HERE


Soccer announcement is HERE



The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sun Corridor will expand services to the Len Colla Recreation Center under an agreement that sees the city taking over the soccer league the clubs had operated.

About 150 children will be served at Len Colla, which had curtailed operations because of the COVID pandemic.

The City Council give unanimous initial approval to the agreement during Tuesday night's meeting, with final approval expected during the next council session.

Community Services Director Steve Hardesty outlined for the council several of the agreement provisions (see box at left), noting that bringing in the Boys & Girls Clubs would add about 400 hours of programming.

Hardesty said registration for the soccer league is now underway, with the eight-week season starting in the fall after several weeks of practice.

"The Boys & Girls Clubs will provide soccer consulting throughout this first year to get us on our feet," he added.

"Staff is planning to implement a sponsorship program that will be announced in the coming days that will provide scholarships to area youths if they need it."

Boys & Girls Clubs Executive Director Matt Lemberg told the council that the goal of the local clubs "has always been to provide a safe place for young people to go when they're not in school. While we've had at least one club open throughout the entire pandemic, we've been forced to operate for most of this time with limited capacity, and as a result a waiting list.

"Over the past year, we have realized that we need to put all of our resources toward accomplishing the goals of providing a safe place for kids. Taking over operations of the Len Colla Recreation Center will allow us to serve more Casa Grande youths and not operating the youth soccer league will allow us to put all of our focus on our after-school programs.

"In talking to Parks and Recreation staff, we know that they will able to put more time and resources into this league than we have been able to."

Lemberg said the clubs looks forward to "continuing the legacy that the city has created with the Len Colla Recreation Center. We met with Michele Colla, Len Colla's daughter, earlier this summer and shared our plans with her. She was excited to hear about our plans for expanded services and that the facility will continue to have her father's name."

Both the clubs and the city have discussed the importance of making sure that the new youth services will always be available to Len Colla families, Lemberg said.

"With that in mind," he continued, "all Palo Verde and Villago middle school students, plus any other current Len Colla members will always be given first priority when registering for the programs at that facility.

"These same students will be able to attend our programs at this facility for free for at least the next three years. We're continuing to look at some models to continue that when this partnership is over."

At the start of the new school year, Lemberg said, "our plan is to close the (Len Colla) facility and begin a small renovation project. This project will take the two open spaces and the small offices on the west side of the building and turn them into three classrooms.

"We anticipate this project will take three to five months, but once it is completed we will be able to serve up to 150 students every day in this facility in a safe and effective manner.

"During this time, we will open a temporary club at Palo Verde Elementary School so there will never be a disruption of services for these students."

Councilman Bob Huddleston asked if any Len Colla adult programs will be cut out because of the transition.

Hardesty responded that, "One of the key factors in the proposal is that we'll still have access to the building and so our normal summer program or after-school program does not include adult programs until after the kids left. So we'll have the exact same features that use the facility.

"For instances, we had line dancing during the week during the day, so that would happen during school hours when the kids aren't there. Youth basketball and adult basketball, drop-in pickleball, things like that, would happen after 6 p.m."

In his final statement to the council, Hardesty said, "I truly look at this as a partnership. If the Boys & Girls Clubs didn't exist, we would be providing after-school and summer programming and so this partnership allows a technical expert to provide those programs for us while we can provide the youth sports and recreational programs on the other end. So we look at this as definitely a win-win partnership."