The Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence is exploring the possibility of building a teen center on the property that will hold the Lawrence school district's College and Career Center.
Colby Wilson, executive director for the club, estimated that the building would cost about $5 million. He said it would ideally include a full-size gym, commercial kitchen, technology center, dance studio and classroom space, among other amenities.
"This is our first time in 42 years that we've undertaken a capital campaign," WIlson said.
The Lawrence school board will discuss the proposal at its Monday meeting. The club is asking the board to allow it to say during the fundraising campaign that the proposed site for the center would be on district property in the 2900 block of Haskell Avenue.
"We are just exploring this partnership," Wilson said. "This is not a done deal by any stretch."
Ground broke for the 33,000-square-foot College and Career Center in September. The facility comes at a price of $5.7 million and is scheduled to open in August. Its mission is to develop students' skills for demanding, high-paying jobs by offering tuition-free, college credit classes with instruction from business and industry professionals.
The center will sit next door to the developing Dwayne Peaslee Technical Education Center for adults, which is set to operate out of the former Honeywell Industries building. Proponents are still gathering funding for that project.
Lawrence schools Superintendent Rick Doll said the addition of a teen center would not force major redesigns of the campus forming there.
"An enhanced teen center would improve after-school programming opportunities for adolescents," he said.
Wilson said the idea behind a new teen center is to involve more students, particularly middle and high schoolers, in after-school club activities. About 200 students from middle and high school are club members and Wilson would like to see that number grow to 1,000, he said.
"We want to keep kids involved, keep them in mentoring programs beyond elementary school," Wilson said. "I think we are trying to meet the needs. There's 1,000 to 1,500 kids that are not engaged in anything after school."
Wilson couldn't say how large the building would be or how soon he hopes to build it.
The space at the current teen center, at 1520 Haskell Ave., accommodates up to 75 kids. Wilson said a new building would allow for up 250 and would be able to serve them all hot meals.
The club was originally interested in creating a new teen center somewhere near a new police headquarters on McDonald Drive. That idea was dropped after voters rejected financing for that plan last fall.