A long-awaited expansion at the George Washington Carver Center youth center in Bunnell is finally slated for construction.
"Having those rooms up front will allow us to be able to expand our services and our programming."
— JORDAN BUTLER, director, Flagler County Youth Center
"We’ve been raising funds as hard as we can, and this past Feb. 1 we gave a $50,000 check to the county to add to their funds to do a building addition," said Barbara Revels, who heads the Carver Foundation's board of directors.
The Carver Foundation is also seeking donations of construction materials, such as windows that could be donated at cost, Revels said.
The Carver Center is owned by the county government but hosts programs supported by Flagler Schools. It been slated for demolition when community efforts saved it in 2011.
Plans for the renovation were developed in 2015, and the county budgeted about $100,000. But construction costs skyrocketed, and the county postponed the project while advocates began pressing the county for $400,000 for the work.
County Administrator Jerry Cameron said at an August 2020 County Commission meeting that the center was a high priority — but so was supporting the county's underfunded fire services.
Now, the county is preparing for the $450,000, 3,259-square-foot first phase of the renovation project. The second phase would add another 4,055 square feet and cost about another $450,000.
The renovation will add multi-purpose rooms, four offices, new bathrooms and a lobby area, and make the building ADA-compliant.
The county hopes to finish the first phase in October, said Heidi Petito, the county's general services director.
The Carver Center is built around the old gym of Flagler County's pre-integration K-12 school for black students, and much of it is taken up by the basketball courts, where practice sessions can reverberate throughout the building — the noise at times interfering with other tasks.
The two new multi-purpose rooms will be able to host the center's computer lab and after-school programs, homework help sessions and community sessions even while students use the basketball gym, said Jordan Butler, the director of the Flagler County Youth Center.
"With the gym being where it is, and the noise … having those rooms up front will allow us to be able to expand our services and our programming, because they’ll be able to operate at the same time. And that goes for our Road to Success Program too," he said, mentioning the GED training program that operates at the Carver Center from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays.
He thanked the county government and and other local governments and businesses for donating items for the Carver Foundation's annual auction.
Revels also thanked the people and businesses that have donated through the auction and the Carver Foundation's annual Motown Madness gala.
"Every year, year in and year out, they’re willing to give away a travel package or ... a gift certificate," she said. "If anyone has contributed, we’re just so thankful for everything they’ve been willing to do."