WESTFIELD – The Westfield Planning Board Jan. 5 approved a site plan, special permit and stormwater permit for a 15,000 square-foot building expansion for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield at 28 West Silver St., the final city approval before construction can begin.
The City Council and School Committee previously approved leasing an additional 30 square-feet to the Boys & Girls Club for the planned $2 million expansion that will add 100 childcare slots.
Robert Levesque of R. Levesque Associates and Boys & Girls Club Chief Executive Officer William Parks presented the plan during the public hearing Tuesday. Parks said the Club received a grant of $1 million from the Department of Early Childhood and Care for the expansion. He said all guidelines and regulations of the department are being followed on the project.
During the discussion, Planning Board Chair William Carellas said the city seemed to be giving up land that had been used for athletics, and also asked how the Amelia Park Children’s Museum felt about being boxed in.
Levesque said the land being used doesn’t lend itself to an athletic field, as it is sandwiched between the road, skate park and parking area. “If we were going to go anywhere for the expansion, this is the least impactful,” he said.
In response to a question from John Bowen, Parks confirmed that the three soccer fields won’t be affected, and where they’re building is only used by the Boys & Girls Club.
Parks also said he had met with the leadership of the Amelia Park Children’s Museum to discuss future programmatic collaborations and building a stronger relationship. He said another meeting is scheduled in February. He said there had been some discussions in the past with the museum where the work “boxed in” did come into play, and added that the height of the one-story building the Club is putting up will not block any light going into the museum.
Parks said regarding overall parking, the Club has a relationship with the museum, ice rink and Westfield Middle School to coordinate activities.
Carellas asked if anyone from the museum or the public wished to speak for or against the project during the virtual public hearing, but no one responded.
Levesque said the Club had hoped to be “in the ground by now,” and said they are still looking to get the expansion constructed this season, to be operational and “ready to roll” by the first day of school.
Parks said it will be a hindrance to them if it’s not ready, because parents have to make decisions about after school programming in advance. He said a majority of the new building will be 100 additional licensed childcare slots. “Our goal would have to be to have it ready by time school starts,” he said.
The Planning Board voted unanimously to approve the site plan and special permits with the standard conditions, plus some modifications to the parking plan including addition of a sidewalk, crosswalk and angled parking, final approval of the stormwater, and the addition of a bike rack by the entrance.