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New community center for youth planned for Niagara Falls

NIAGARA FALLS – A $2 million community center with an indoor, artificial-turf field is being planned on 66th Street.

A new not-for-profit called The Niagara Community Center is partnering with several organizations, including the Niagara Falls Boys & Girls Club, Niagara Catholic and Niagara University, to build a 20,000-square-foot field house with classroom space behind the former St. Dominic Savio Middle School.

The facility will be open for Niagara Catholic’s students as well as young people from across the city, said Gary P. Hall, president of the organization’s board of directors.

It will accommodate a variety of sports and activities, from tennis to soccer to lacrosse, as well as volleyball, gymnastics, dance and cheerleading, said Hall. There will also be classrooms for literacy programs, a computer lab and hopefully a music lab.

It’s been his dream to open a facility like this, Hall said.

“Really, just growing up as a boy in Niagara Falls, I saw the need to have more facilities for the children of the community,” he said, “a place for them to come and be involved in athletics and educational activities with the proper leadership and program managers.”

Hall grew up going to a boys club on 17th Street, the kind of place he feels the city needs more of.

The project will come before the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday night. The proposed structure would be 40 feet high, 5 feet higher than the zoning code for the area, which means the project needs to have a variance approved.

The project, being designed by Cannon Design, will also need approval from the city Planning Board before it can move forward. There’s a 10-month timetable for construction, which Hall said he hopes can begin this summer.

The 1.3-acre parcel where the facility will be located – visible from the I-190 – is being purchased from the Diocese of Buffalo. That location means the organization is potentially open to selling naming rights for the facility, said Hall, who’s been a Boys & Girls Club board member for 25 years.

The non-profit will take ownership when it obtains approval for the project from the Planning Board, he said.

The Niagara Community Center’s website is the-niagara.com.

email: abesecker@buffnews.com