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McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko is hopeful that an “amicable solution” can be reached that prevents the city’s 75-year-old LaRosa Boys & Girls Club from closing.
Meanwhile, state corporation records hint that a new organization is being formed to help sustain the club.
On his Facebook page, Cherepko said that on Tuesday, along with State Sen. Jim Brewster and State Rep. Austin Davis, he had a video conference call with leaders of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania to discuss the future of the LaRosa Boys & Girls Club on Ravine Street.
“I am very pleased with the meeting and wholeheartedly believe we will be able to reach an amicable solution that will allow us to serve our community in one way or another at the club’s current location,” Cherepko said.
Citing increased expenses and reduced attendance, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pittsburgh-based parent organization announced last week the club would permanently close on Dec. 1. The move shocked city leaders, including the local advisory board of the LaRosa Club, which said it received no warning that the facility was in jeopardy.
Officials of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania have not responded to repeated requests from Tube City Almanac for comment.
Meanwhile, Tube City Almanac has learned that a new non-profit corporation called The LaRosa Youth Development Foundation has been chartered in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Corporation Bureau records show that the group was formed July 22 with its registered business address at the home of City Councilman Jim Barry Jr. in McKeesport.
Barry is a longtime volunteer at the LaRosa Boys & Girls Club who served as director of strategic initiatives and outreach for Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania until he was let go this summer.
A source familiar with the group said its leaders are not yet ready to speak on the record and are awaiting review by the Internal Revenue Service to determine if they qualify as a tax-exempt organization.
In June, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania closed the Duquesne-West Mifflin Boys Club and announced that some programming would continue at the Duquesne Education Center. That decision angered Duquesne residents and led to a petition drive.
The Boys & Girls Club has offered to bus children from McKeesport to the Orchard Park housing complex in Duquesne for after-school services and enrichment programming.
Originally published November 26, 2020.