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Grosse Pointe City

January 23, 2013

Local officials, supporters gather for Neighborhood Club ribbon-cutting

By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer

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Grosse Pointe Woods Mayor Robert Novitke and retired longtime Neighborhood Club Executive Director John Bruce celebrate the opening of the new Neighborhood Club Recreation and Wellness Center during an event Jan. 16. Bruce was involved in initial planning for the facility, and a plaque honoring his efforts now hangs near the main entrance.

GROSSE POINTE CITY — Fewer than two weeks after a Jan. 5 open house attracted hundreds to the new Neighborhood Club Recreation and Wellness Center in the Village, community and Neighborhood Club officials gathered to mark the opening of the new building with a ribbon-cutting Jan. 16.

Constructed on the site of the old structure at 17150 Waterloo, the new facility — which is roughly 41,000 square feet, Board Chair Peggy King Scully said — officially opened its doors to the public Jan. 7. Much larger than its predecessor, it features a 4,900-square-foot fitness center; a warm-water, zero-depth entry pool with a children’s area and lane swimming for adults; a gymnasium with six basketball hoops, courts for pickleball and volleyball, and an indoor batting cage; a Sports Enhancement Center for student athletes and rowing in the basement; a community room that can be rented for parties or other events; a preschool on the second floor; and more. The $10.6 million project was completed in partnership with Beaumont Health System, a long-term tenant now using 25 percent of the building.

Executive Director Stu Alderman paid tribute to his longtime predecessor, John Bruce, who paved the way for the new building during his tenure, laying the groundwork for the project that was to come.

“My first word is ‘wow,” said Alderman from the spacious new gym. “This is something special as we gather here today. … Today is a celebration of a vision.”

Thanking everyone from Neighborhood Club’s volunteers, staff and board of directors to Grosse Pointe City and Beaumont officials, he acknowledged, “It has not been easy at times, going through a construction project of this magnitude.” Still, the building was completed on time and on budget.

Beaumont’s learning and rehabilitation programs at the Neighborhood Club, which started Jan. 14, include adult physical therapy and the John A. and Marlene L. Boll Center for Human Development, which handles learning and development issues ranging from speech therapy to behavior management. Cutting-edge equipment and technology are available for young people experiencing a variety of challenges, including stuttering, autism spectrum disorders and traumatic brain injuries.

Dr. Donna Hoban, Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe’s senior vice president and physician-in-chief, said Bruce approached the hospital about five years ago about a possible collaboration.

“Knowing that the Neighborhood Club was all about children, we wanted to do something special for children,” she said.

The Center for Human Development is similar to a program Beaumont has in Royal Oak.

“There had never been a program like that for kids here,” Hoban said. “So often, children had to travel far (for those services). … Truthfully, it will make such a big difference in these children’s lives.”

For the Bolls — well-known for their many philanthropic efforts, especially in the arts — the center hits close to home. They have a teenage grandson who has struggled with dyslexia all of his life. Their daughter, Kris Mestaugh, recalls having to take her son across town for testing and other medical appointments. Now, local parents will be able to do that close to home. Just as importantly, Mestdaugh said doctors will no longer have to make the long trek to meet with teachers, or just confer by phone.

“We’re interested in education, whether it’s education in the arts or education in public schools,” said Marlene Boll, a former Rockette.

Alderman called the Neighborhood Club a “destination spot” for local residents, and Grosse Pointe City Mayor Dale Scrace agreed.

“This is going to be … a real focal spot for the whole community,” Scrace said.

Unlike the city parks, the Neighborhood Club is open to anyone, regardless of residency, and officials from several neighboring Pointes were on hand for the ribbon-cutting.

Grosse Pointe Woods Mayor Robert Novitke admired the “im-pressive structure,” as well as the “impressive people” behind it.

“That’s what makes these communities, the Grosse Pointes, so impressive — just everyone coming together,” he said.

Grosse Pointe Shores Mayor Ted Kedzierski was pleased to see the finished project, as well.

“This is a great development for the entire Grosse Pointe community, and we’re proud that our residents, John and Marlene Boll, donated seed money for this facility,” he said.

Shores City Manager Mark Wollenweber was on hand, as well, one of an estimated 100-200 who came for the ribbon-cutting.

“It was nice to see John Bruce recognized,” Wollenweber said.

Although he let Alderman take the reins for the project, Bruce was an important part of the ribbon-cutting, and his beaming smile spoke volumes.

“The first time I toured it after it was finished, I said this building is the star,” Bruce said. “It is beyond anything we imagined or dreamed.”

He said the new building is all about services for every segment of the population.

“This is about everybody in the community,” Bruce said. “It is about the people the Neighborhood Club has served for 100 years and will continue to serve for another 100 years. It is absolutely symbolic of the best of the Grosse Pointes. The Neighborhood Club hasn’t been easy at times to describe, and now it is — it’s the neighborhood’s club.”

Those who still haven’t visited are invited to a community open house from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Neighborhood Club. For more information, call (313) 885-4600 or visit www.neighborhoodclub.org.

For appointments or more information about pediatric services, call Beaumont at (313) 473-4730 or visit www.beaumontchildrenshospital.com. For appointments or additional information about adult physical therapy, call (313) 473-4700.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer K. Michelle Moran at kmoran@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1047.