BRADENTON -- Parts of the Boys & Girls Club of Manatee County's Bradenton building have existed for more than 60 years, but soon it will be a thing of the past.
The Pittsburgh Pirates propose to level the old Boys and Girls Club building next door to McKechnie Field to make way for extra parking and a ballfield expansion.
The Boys & Girls Club of Manatee County, established in 1951 by the Bradenton Kiwanis, moved from the old building in August. Newly appointed Executive Director Marc Dosogne, who began work Oct. 1, said he understands many people will be sad to see the building demolished.
"The board here and staff leadership took a hard look at the condition of the building," he said. "They thought about what was best for the
future for the club."
Dosogne said the club's future is bright.
"Our focus now is how do we best serve the kids?" Dosogne said. "We went from 90 to 300 students. That's a good sign that we are reaching out to kids in the community."
Since leaving the 1405 Ninth St. W property, the club has moved to other locations around the county, including sites in Palmetto and DeSoto.
Although city councilmembers expressed nostalgic memories connected with the old building, they decided it was best to knock it down. The Bradenton City Council unanimously approved demolition plans by a 5-0 vote during the Wednesday morning meeting.
Trevor Gooby, senior director of Florida Operations for the Pirates, said the new field will be open for use by local baseball teams. They hope to complete the project by spring training next year. The current half-field will be turned into a full field.
"The Pirates will be paying for it and the final budget is not set," he said.
Gooby said plans are to sod the field and re-drain the area after the demolition. He could not give a date on when the building would be knocked down.
ZNS Engineers of Bradenton will oversee site improvements. Rachel Layton, ZNS director planning, said the design will compatible with rest of the McKechnie Field.
"We want it to be a unified look," said Layton. "There will be a 6- to 8-foot fence along Ninth Street West."
She also said the lot will have 260 parking spaces.
Janey Tate, city of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. You can follow her on Twitter at Janey_Tate.