A group of Georgetown residents, concerned over the possible sale of the 53-year-old Jelleff Boys and Girls Club, yesterday announced that they are banding together to prevent the possibility from becoming a reality.
Boys and Girls Club officials, however, said that no "offer to sell and no offer to buy" the club has been made and that they are only "at the discussion stage."
Since April, officials of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington have been looking into the possibility of selling the club site, which sits on a prime parcel of land at 3265 S St. NW, near Wisconsin Avenue. Boys and Girls Club officials say that they have been told that the site is worth between $4 million and $6 million.
"It is a most valuable piece of property. Let's put it that way," said Archie Avedisian, executive vice president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.
While they have stressed their desire to be cooperative rather than antagonistic, the group of parents, citizens and advisory neighborhood commission members who have formed the "Citizens to Save Jelleff, Inc.," said they are miffed by the implication that club officials would consider the sale of the site without consulting the community.
"Finding out what is happening has been very difficult," said Ed Levy, who chairs the newly formed citizens group and also serves on the board of the nearby Burleith Citizens Association. "There has been a minimal disclosure pattern."
But officials of the Jelleff board of directors and the board of directors who oversee all of the area's boys and girls clubs counter by saying that a possible sale of the property is "only in the thinking stages," according to Patrick Kenny, president of the Jelleff club.
"If we decide to go ahead with the sale of the property we would have a meeting with them. There is no reason to go to them because we have not decided to do anything," Avedisian said. "There is really nothing to tell them."
The residents, whose children use the club, don't agree.
"We are being stalled. We are being ignored, and we are very concerned," said Marguerite Cunningham, assistant chairperson of the Citizens to Save Jelleff.
The Jelleff club has existed at its current site for 32 years, said Bob Stowers, its athletic director. Aside from its playing fields, swimming pool and basketball courts, the club offers tennis lessons, art courses and horseback riding to its activities.
Parents like Joyce Huber say that the club is the only place in the area where they can know that their children will be safe and well supervised.
But the concern of the Boys and Girls Clubs officials is money. Avedisian said that United Way funds fell by $34,000 this year to $431,000. He added that a new club was recently established in Prince William County at a cost of $200,000 to the organization.
Kenny said that the Jelleff club needs two more staff members and would require $40,000 to $50,000 from the community for him to feel that there was no need to look for the revenue from a possible sale of the club.