GARDINER — Peter Prescott issued a prediction Wednesday to the crowd gathered next to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kennebec Valley on Pray Street.

Peter Prescott speaks during the ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday at the site of the new building for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kennebec Valley in Gardiner. Jessica Lowell/Kennebec Journal

“A lot of people have been saying this will be the best clubhouse in Kennebec County,” Prescott, one of three chairmen of the club’s capital campaign, said. “But I am here to tell you this will be the best clubhouse in the state of Maine.”

Not long after, club and local officials took part in the ceremonial groundbreaking for a new $10 million building that will be home to the club and the programs it hosts when it’s completed in October 2022.

Wednesday’s event was a significant a milestone in a yearslong process that was put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, delaying construction by a year. And while the $10 million fundraising target has not yet been met, club officials didn’t want to delay construction any longer.

For Juliana Montell, the new building means she has the opportunity to meet more people.

Montell, 16, is a junior at Gardiner Area High School and she’s the 2020 Boys & Girls Clubs of Kennebec Valley Youth of the Year.


“The club is more than a place to be, it’s an opportunity to be had,” she said, noting that people of all ages use the facility. “It’s a safe place and everyone feels welcome, and the new building is more opportunity for us.”

The groundbreaking took place in the field next to the club’s current home, the former Pray Street School. When the new building is complete, the school building will be razed and replaced with sports fields.

In October 2019, the club announced the public phase of its campaign to raise $10 million to replace the building it has occupied for two decades. The new building is expected to be about 30% larger than the current building. With the added space, the organization is expected to be able to expand its child care offering for children 6 weeks old and older and increase its capacity to serve school-age children in after-school programs.

At the end of 2020, the organization met a $1 million matching fund challenge issued by an anonymous donor, and earlier this year, the Gardiner City Council committed to support a $500,000 funding request by the club, to be paid out over the next four years from tax increment financing district revenues and the city’s fund balance.

That leaves about $650,000 to be raised, but organizers are optimistic that it can be raised.

Some site work on the project has already started, including tree removal and some drainage work.

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