Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield eyes $6.5 million addition

RIDGEFIELD — The Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield is eyeing a $6.5 million extension to its facility that could break ground by the end of the summer, pending local approval. The additional space would be largely dedicated to the club’s sixth- to- 12th-grade population, which accounts for roughly half its membership, according to BGCR CEO Mike Flynn.

“The club has been working for the last several years on expanding some of our facility to meet the growing need,” Flynn said. “Part of that was to connect the governor to the project ... and show him the club as it is, the impact we have on the kids in the community, where we're going in the future and hopefully garner some support.”

Following his recognition of the town's cultural district designation last Friday afternoon, Gov. Ned Lamont toured the club alongside other state dignitaries. Former club member Annie Cozens and current club member Eli Keeler, the 2020 and 2021 Youths of the Year, respectively, acted as tour guides. Having grown up in the club since childhood, Flynn said they regard it as their “home away from home.”

The roughly 13,000 square foot addition would be built off of the club’s existing gymnasium and include a new teen center, tween center, multipurpose space and technology café, Flynn said. With the new space, administrators could repurpose the existing clubhouse for programs, educational activities and counseling services and thus engage more members.

The goal, he said, is “to support kids in those formative years, socially and emotionally, but also expand on some of our most successful programs … that lead into a variety of other opportunities.”

Flynn said operating through the pandemic underscored the club’s need for additional space as more families came to depend on its services. The facility last expanded under a capital campaign between 2006 and 2007, from 6,000 to 19,000 square feet.

Money to construct the addition has been raised privately thus far, Flynn said, but he hopes to garner financial support from the state to reach the $6.5 million threshold. State Sen. Will Haskell and Reps. Aimee Berger-Girvalo and Kenneth Gucker accompanied Lamont as the delegation is working to bring “state investment” to the project, Haskell said.

“While it is wonderful to see an increasing number of families utilizing the facility, they now must make the proper upgrades to accommodate and maintain the club’s social and physical integrity within Ridgefield,” Berger-Girvalo said in a statement. “I am confident that (Lamont), too, sees just how critical it is to support this community effort and, in turn, support our young people.”

“Visiting the Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield always makes me smile,” Haskell said in a statement, “(and the) expansion project would allow them to serve even more young people.”

For more information about the club, visit www.bgcridgefield.org.

alyssa.seidman@hearstmediact.com