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Oak Harbor Boys and Girls Club seeks new facility

Kids in Oak Harbor are hoping the public can help find them a safe place to go before and after school.

OAK HARBOR, Wash. — It has been appropriately named the Roller Barn for generations. For the past 16 years, the massive red barn on Oak Harbor's north end has been home to the city's Boys and Girls Club where nearly 200 kids come to play every day.

But at more than 100 years old, the barn is showing its age.

It's too expensive for the club to fix and with the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station adding dozens of more jets in the coming years, many feel it’s time to put the barn out to pasture.

"With the influx of all the families the Navy is bringing in, there is going to be a churn of children coming through," said realtor and Navy veteran Nick Ricci. "We need to have a facility that's going to stand the test of time for these growing families, and right now this isn't the place."

The Boys and Girls Club is currently looking to sell the barn and renovate a nearby property, but it will likely cost millions to complete. Unit Director Nikki Barone said the club is critical to families in Oak Harbor with the growing population and rising cost of child care.

A year membership for the club costs just $30. Barone said the benefits are priceless.

"It's extremely vital for the community to have a place where kids can come during the after-school hours to continue to learn and grow in a safe and positive environment. Kids build relationships with other kids, and with adult mentors,” said Barone.

Local politicians are on-board with the project and pushing for state funding. But it will also take financial support from the community to make the move.

A fundraiser featuring renowned illusionist David DaVinci is planned for May 3 at Oak Harbor High School. All proceeds benefit the Oak Harbor Boys and Girls Club.

Email nbarone@bgcsc.org for more information.

Credit: Boys and Girls Club