Samuel L. Jones Boys & Girls Club closing, city of Decatur has opportunity to purchase
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Decatur, GA — The Samuel L Jones Boys & Girls Club in Oakhurst is shutting its doors after nearly 50 years in operation, and the city of Decatur can make an offer on the property due to the terms of a lease agreement with the club.
Claire Guitton, Chief Operating Officer, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, sent a statement to Decaturish explaining the decision.
“We have made the difficult decision not to reopen this location in the fall and to immediately begin the process of relocating the club,” Guitton said. “For nearly 50 years, we have served kids and teens at the Jones Club. We’ve enjoyed getting to know these kids, families, and the overall community.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a financial strain on the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta.
“Due to COVID-19 and the ripple effects of the pandemic, we are battling a tough financial landscape for the rest of this year and into 2021,” Guitton wrote. “We have been fortunate to keep our full-time staff employed throughout this crisis and engaged in critical work supporting kids and families. As we look toward 2021, we are planning for a sizable loss in funding and we are bracing for that now.”
Decatur also is a different community now than when the club first opened, Guitton said.
“When considering club closures or relocations, we take into consideration a number of factors including: the need in the area, average daily attendance and trends over time, condition of the facility, the cost to serve each member, and local revenue and county board support,” Guitton said. “As we plan for the future, we are evaluating several of our club locations in an effort to serve the most kids with a focus in the areas of greatest need. As you know, over the last few decades, the Decatur area has seen a demographic shift and this area now reports above-average child well-being ratings. The Jones team has had to recruit further and further outside of this community to find the kids and teens with the greatest need. The facility is also in need of significant updates, however [it] represents a valuable asset to BGCMA. We plan to sell the facility and relocate to a better space in an area with higher need, likely South DeKalb.”
Guitton said the organization has “met with leaders in the city of Decatur” and that they were “very understanding” of the decision. They pledged to continue working with the club to ensure a smooth transition.
The city of Decatur leases the indoor pool at the Boys & Girls Club. As part of the 10-year lease, signed in 2016, the city was given a right of first refusal if the property was ever put on the market.
Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett didn’t know about the closure until she was contacted by Decaturish. She wasn’t prepared to say whether the city would try to make an offer on the property.
“I do know that we have a right of first refusal. I don’t have any information about what that would even look like,” Garrett said. “I would have to have more information to find out. I don’t know what they’re asking for it.”
The city is facing problems of its own due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The indoor pool is currently closed and the city has had to furlough part-time employees due to the pandemic.
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