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Plans for new O'Hara community center gaining steam

| Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Children enjoy the after school program at Boyd Community Center with plans set for updates for the new center. Drawing is Dominic Casile and reading is Jessica Jing McCann and Izabella Stern.

The new Boyd Community Center is expected to open in 2015, on the same Powers Run Road property in O'Hara where the current center is run from a former school.

The $6.4 million complex is expected to include a fitness center, gym, dance studio, art room and theater.

“Imagine having coffee or lunch in the café, using the Wi-Fi and visiting with neighbors while waiting for your teen to finish basketball practice,” for example, said Stephanie Flom, executive director of the Community Center and Library Association.

“We will truly be a center for our community.”

Plans for the last five years have called for a new community center to follow construction of the $7 million Cooper-Siegel Community Library. The library on Fox Chapel Road opened in spring 2012.

Flom said nearly 85 percent of funds to build the community center, or about $5.4 million, have been secured.

O'Hara residents Tonja and Alex Condron are expected to unveil a fundraising campaign this fall to help collect the rest of the amount needed. Naming opportunities for the center are available as well.

The center's programs are offered to Fox Chapel Area School District residents and those from neighboring municipalities.

Bids for construction should be sought by the end of the year, with a groundbreaking next spring.

O'Hara resident Joanne Germanos said work can't begin soon enough.

“Other communities have really modern community centers and I always thought it was the one thing lacking here,” said Germanos, whose children frequented Boyd for its kid-friendly programs.

“This still feels like an old school building.”

Boyd Community Center was founded 31 years ago, when a group of residents hoped to transform a vacant school into a gathering spot. Today, the offerings have grown to 300 programs that include cooking, painting, knitting and computer skills.

But Flom said enthusiasm and interest long ago outgrew the available space.

“It is a much-loved space, but it is well-worn and old,” she said.

Neighbors of the 11-acre community center site will be invited to meetings later this year to discuss concerns about traffic, lighting and green space.

There also will be meetings with the theater group Stage Right, which produces shows at Boyd.

“We want to ensure that the theater is designed to meet performance needs,” Flom said.

Small groups will be able to meet in program rooms, and a childcare room is designed for a drop-in service for people using the fitness center. Boyd's signature program, after-school Arts and Enrichment, will have a dedicated space where children can play games, paint and do other activities.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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