By Joshua Maloni
The Lewiston Porter Youth Football and Cheer Organization has been partnering with the Village of Lewiston in recent years, most notably in using Richard F. Soluri Park in the plateau area off Portage Road. The youth group will soon begin renting the former board meeting room on the second floor of the Red Brick Municipal Building.
At Monday’s work session, LPYF field representative and football coach Al Whitehead provided an update to the Board of Trustees, and asked if rent could be lowered. He explained the organization is “nonprofit and completely volunteer-run and -operated.”
“Advocating for our program is something I myself am extremely passionate about. And I have seen, during my short time with LPYF, that same passion coming from the Village of Lewiston,” Whitehead said. “From the gracious and sole use of Soluri Park, to the excitement seen on the faces of Village Board members when discussing what the future holds for our organization. I could feel how deeply committed the Village of Lewiston is to giving back to our youth.”
He explained, “We are transitioning from the traditional youth program approaches and doubling-down our efforts to not only stay relevant and current with today's youth, but also to become the standard in youth sports. As we continue our journey to be the standard in sports, we are at a crossroads as a program. To grow LPYF to its true potential, and reach as many kids as we can, LPYF is now in desperate need for an official home.”
Whitehead said that, with 16 board members and 12 board meetings a year – each open to the public – “We find ourselves beyond capacity.
“Our committee meetings, that meet one to two times per month, are currently being held at our board of directors’ personal homes. … Our sensitive documentation, while in secure locations, requires a lot of coordination in order to access it. Our office equipment is scattered amongst our board members, as residents, as we do not have an office to keep these items. We are also in the process of holding biannual CPR and AED training classes for our coaches and board members, in an effort to give our kids the best possible player safety – but need to rely on the goodwill of local fire departments to offer the space required to host these events.
“All of this leads to extremely organized individuals having to work in disarray.
“An office space would grant us the ability to centralize all of our operations, and give our families and community access to LPYF as they need it. Our idea for the space is that of a community center, which will have regular CPR AED offerings, coaching seminars, Lewiston Porter Youth Wrestling Club access, true public access to LPYF board meetings, LPYF committee meetings, work space for grant writing, and various athletic uses.
“Our optics are important now, more than ever, and we come to you, the Village of Lewiston, to once again double-down on the compassion and commitment for our program and the youth and our area that you have shown over the past 55 years.”
He called the current room rental rate of $395 a month “reasonable,” but said the fee “is a larger financial expenditure than what our budget can endure.”
Upon speaking with the LPYF board of directors, Whitehead said, “We would like to put forth a proposal of $150 per month, with the expectation that LPYF will grant monitored access to local youth sports organizations in the Lewiston-Porter community, within reason. And, that we will also be hosting CPR and AED training events, and additional community services, with an updated calendar of events and office hours each month.”
Trustees agreed to reduce the rent to $150 a month.
Mayor Anne Welch said, “Talking to my board members, I think that’s reasonable that we would give you half the price.”
She explained, “We can appreciate everything you do for the youth in this community. You’ve done a lot; it's been great that you’ve taken over Dick Soluri Park. I’ve been up there and watched the kids; you have quite a group up there. It’s what we like to see for our kids. …
“We like to see our kids getting involved in sports. It does a lot for them, and also for the parents, grandparents, to watch them.
“We wish you the best up there (at the park) – we know you want to really develop that park and make it really good for the kids. … Any little thing that we can do to help, we’re glad to help you.”
Whitehead said, “We are so thankful for the opportunity to have a home at the Red Brick in the Village of Lewiston, and we are extremely looking forward to the continued support and generosity from the community that has given myself and our organization so much over the years.”