(Michigan City, IN) - The door has opened for the Boys and Girls Club of La Porte County to expand its services again. A zoning variance for the organization to construct a 35,000-square-foot building in the area of Coolspring Avenue and Jackson Street was approved this week by the Michigan City Board of Zoning Appeals.
Currently, the organization in Michigan City provides services for children when school is not in session at the former Elston High School.
Michelle Shirk, Chief Executive Officer of the youth organization, said there’s no longer adequate space at that facility because the membership has grown to 200 youth.
“It’s a tight fit,” she said.
The new facility would be large enough for up to 350 children and includes a gymnasium, cafeteria, and classrooms. Shirk said there is no gymnasium in the space the organization rents at the former school building. The Boys and Girls Club of La Porte County expanded two years ago when it opened facilities in Kingsford Heights and Westville. Shirk said three more branches will open in La Porte beginning in January.
“This is actually phase three of a three-phase expansion,” she said.
Shirk said demand skyrocketed during the pandemic when children were kept out of school in an effort designed to slow the spread of COVID-19. Parents wanted a safe and productive place for their children to go instead of staying home while they were at work. The facilities are open for children ages 4-18 after school, during the summer, or while school is operating online. Shirk said there is no cost for any of the programming.
The organization has had a presence in Michigan City for 20 years.
“All of our programming is very structured. Our kids follow a curriculum that supports healthy lifestyles, character, and fitness. Academic success is a huge part of our programming and safety is our number one priority,” she said.