A work in prog ress: New Bristol Boys & Girls Club will be ‘a living place’

Photo courtesy Bristol Press: Mike Orazzi
New Bristol Boys & Girls Club will be “a living place”
June 20, 2014

 As the new Bristol Boys & Girls Club comes together on West Street, it’s becoming ever more obvious what an impressive structure it will be.

“Every time I turn the corner, I get blown away,” said Michael Suchopar, chief professional officer of the club.

The $11 million project, which got underway in October, is slated for completion in September.

Suchopar and Corey Morin, superintendent of the project for the Torrington-based O&G Construction Co., recently took a reporter around inside the construction site to get a firsthand view of the changes in store.

Though the walls consist of little more than wires and steel beams, with thick plastic covering most every window opening, it’s possible to see the layout of the rooms inside and how stunning many of them will be.

Walking in the main doors, which don’t yet exist, a visitor will stroll into a long, massive room with large windows lining the street side and a big opening at the far end to get a view into the massive field house at the western end of the structure.

All that glass has a purpose, Suchopar said.

“We want the community to see kids, to see people, and to recognize it as a living place with a pulse,” he said.

The new Don Tinty Boys & Girls Club and Family Center will house a massive field house, a technology center, a teen room, an arts and culture center and much more.  It will replace the club’s aging quarters on Laurel Street, which remains for sale.

Morin said the project hasn’t hit any snags. Construction has gone remarkably smoothly, he said.

“Inside’s going really, really well,” Morin said.

He said the brick façade will be going up soon and the glass will begin to be installed in July. Following that, Morin said, crews will be paving, adding sidewalks and doing landscaping.

During the last month, Morin said, there will “a mad dash race” to finish all the rooms completely.

The field house, which has walls propped us with trusses, will have two basketball courts side by side. It still has a dirt floor with construction vehicles mid-court. Its roof is slated to be done within weeks.

On the club side, the first floor will have a teen center in the back, a kitchen, a computer center with about 24 stations and a whopping game room.

The second floor has an 1,800-square-foot section that was designed for a kindergarten program that won’t be needed given the decision to start full-day kindergarten in the public schools.

Suchopar said a range of other options is under consideration.

There’s also lots of office space, a room for the Older Members Club, a fitness center and a large community room in the front that has what amounts to a wall of glass facing West Street, a spot Suchopar said will be perfect for all sorts of activities and events.

He said the club aims to provide services that span a lifetime, from toddlers to senior citizens, not just the six to 18-year-old focus of most similar clubs.

Morin said he’s impressed with the high ceilings and wide corridors included in the design so that the building remains open. Inside, he said, there shouldn’t be any congestion.

The building will be fully compliant with new environmental standards, Suchopar said.

“We have to be now,” he said. “We want to let kids know we’re environmentally conscious.”

Suchopar said he’s still trying to come up with $475,000 to cover the entire $11 million tab for the project. He said he would like to have all the money before the building opens.

Among the club’s big donors were ESPN, the state, Webster Bank, the Tinty Foundation, Yarde Metals and the Barnes and Roberts families.