Haverhill Boys & Girls Club Signs Purchase Agreement for 6.5-Acre Site Near I-495 and Broadway

An early conceptual drawing of a new Boys & Girls Club of Greater Haverhill at 393 Broadway, Haverhill. (Courtesy.)

Boys & Girls Club of Greater Haverhill Executive Director Javier Bristol. (WHAV News photograph.)

(Additional photographs below.) The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Haverhill is moving ahead with plans to buy and develop a 6.5-acre parcel at the corner of Monument Street and Broadway near Interstate 495.

Executive Director Javier Bristol told WHAV Friday the Club signed a purchase and sale agreement, following the withdrawal of a competing housing applicant for the state-owned parcel. Both applicants bid $855,000 for the land. WHAV exclusively reported the proposal Feb. 23. During an interview with WHAV March 19, Bristol laid out the rationale for the new building.

“Why are we even doing this, as a starting point? I think it’s pretty obvious to the folks that are supporting us now. For those who don’t know, we’ve outgrown space for quite some time. We’re feeding 200 plus kids on a daily basis. Our goal with the new space is to double our impact and see upwards of 500 kids on a daily basis.”

Director of Development Melissa deFriesse. (WHAV News photograph.)

Besides accommodating the growth of after-school programs, Director of Development Melissa deFriesse said the new complex would house a licensed daycare center for pre-school children. She explained there is shortage of seats throughout the area and a long waitlist. Other ideas include a dedicated teen center, which could provide tech space and meeting rooms, in a wing of the proposed building; quieter space for those engaged in writing projects; an expanded “Kids in the Kitchen” teaching space; and more.

The Club has 30 staff alone in its after-school program and, Bristol added, it simply needs more space for all of things it’s doing, but in cramped quarters.

“Right now, if you go into that space, believe it or not, there is something for everyone. We have a music room in there; we do have a commercial kitchen; we do have a cafeteria; we have a science room—a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) room; we have an education room; we have a teen center in there; a gymnasium; a recreational space; an art space. We’re basically going to take all of these spaces and, like I said, modernize it, give it more state-of-the-art equipment, facilities. All of it—just ramp it up and obviously be able to do more in the new space. You’d be surprised, what we currently offer. We have 25 plus programs in there right now,” he said.

Boys & Girls Club of Greater Haverhill Board President Thea P. Tsagaris. (WHAV News photograph.)

Bristol said, ideally, the new building will have two high school-sized gyms. Currently, more than 100 children are participating in athletics such as basketball, hockey and, soon, volleyball. Others are in art classes, including digital art, and social-emotional learning programs.

“We started a dedicated girls’ program just focused on the social emotional side of girls and girl empowerment…we have a hair program that’s just for the girls, just building their confidence,” he explained.

Once due diligence is completed and the Club takes ownership, deFriesse said the public will be asked to help during what could be a three- to five-year construction timeline. “We do have a vision for the space, for the new building, and we’ll be taking that out into the community looking for support and for fundraising,” she explained.

The Boys & Girls Club rarely asks the public to pay for construction. It did in 1916 when it built the main building facing Emerson Street and, during the 1950s, to construct the gymnasium in the rear.

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