After School Program Gets Initial Okay

There was absolute unanimous, though still preliminary, approval on Monday for a new After-School Program building to be sited at 85 Broadway by For Kids Only (FKO).

Dozens of parents, employees and supporters of FKO joined every Revere City Councillor on Monday in lending support to the project during a public hearing.

“The signs that I see are all positive,” said Ward 1 Councillor Richard Penta. “There are no negatives I see. They have off-street parking. The drop off area is on the side. They’re going to have 120 kids off the street. I’ve been a proponent all along that there is nothing better you can do than give kids somewhere constructive to go after school. There’s nothing better than keeping kids off the streets. It’s also going to be a gateway to Broadway as it will be the very first building you see. It’s a beautiful building and it will be a great gateway.”

The existing one-story building – formerly the Abate Chiropractic Clinic – will be gutted and a second story will be added to the existing building. The façade appears like a showpiece for that rather toned-down area of Broadway – with lots of glass and a design featuring interesting curves and lines.

The plan is to house about 100 children initially in grades K-8, with the possibility of expanding to 120 children. There are 11 off-street parking spots and pick-up and drop-off will occur within the off-street parking lot. The only direct abutter is reportedly agreeable to the project.

The hours of operation are between 2-6 p.m. during the school year and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summertime. There would be nine employees at the center.

FKO Executive Director Debbie Kneeland said they have been working in the Revere schools since 1998 providing after-school opportunities for kids. Additionally, FKO once occupied space in the Broadway Post Office and then had a nice space that they leased at Broadway and Winthrop Avenue.

That closed about four years ago, Kneeland said, because they simply outgrew the facility.

“All of our work is in the public schools now,” she said. “We partner with East Boston, Revere, Everett, Peabody, Salem and Winthrop. This, however, will be our first owner-occupied facility in the state…This is truly a City institution. This will be Revere’s program and Revere’s building and we will demonstrate that children brought to us and under our care will be growing into proud and giving citizens.”

Councillor Tony Zambuto pressed the group as to whether – as a non-profit organization exempt from property taxes – they would be amenable to a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement.

That would mean FKO would make an agreement with the City to pay a certain fee in lieu of taxes – typically agreements are based on a certain percentage of the property values.

FKO Attorney Sean Donahue said the organization would be amenable to discussing such an agreement.

Beyond that, the project had no opposition and appears to be headed for an affirmative vote of the Council in the next couple of weeks.

“We can never, never do enough for the children of the city to get them off the streets and guide them in their early years and through to their teens,” said Councillor John Powers.

The matter was sent to the Zoning Committee for further review of the Special Permit. It is expected to be reported out of committee quickly and perhaps voted up next Monday.

The proposal also goes before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) this week for a parking variance.

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