LACONIA — It's not every day that you'll find a basketball court positioned below stained glass windows. But the Boys & Girls Club of the Lakes Region has one in the hoop court it has laid out in the Great Room at the former Saint James Episcopal Church, it's new home on North Main Street.
And, thanks to a donation from Spalding Sports of two of it's ''Beast'' rollaway hoop units, the Great Room, which was once the church's worship area, is now the scene of lots of basketball activity .
The rollaway units can be adjusted in height from seven and half to 10 feet and have a 50-gallon tank at the base which can be filled with water or sand to make them more stable. They are also mounted on casters which makes them easy to move when there are other activities scheduled for the Great Room.
''It's very important that we are now able to offer basketball as part of our indoor recreation activities,'' said Laconia Police Chief and Boys & Girls Club President Chris Adams.'' We are really grateful to Spalding Sports for its donation and welcome donations of all kinds for our fund drive.'' The rollaway basketball hoops retail for $1,200.
The club is the midst of a $2.4 million capital campaign to renovate the church and recently reached the million dollar mark. He said that there are three parts of the fund drive, $700,000 for the purchase of the church property, $700,000 for renovations to the property and $1 million for an endowment fund.
Al Posnack, who chairs the Capital Campaign Committee, said that the rollaway hoops were recently assembled with the assistance of many of the children who take part in the school's programs.
He said that he and Chris Ennis, a member of the club's staff, started assembling the units at 9 a.m. and that attracted the attention of many of the young people who pitched in to help.
It took until 3 p.m. to complete the assembly according to Posnack.
"A lot of the kids were standing there, waiting to take shots. 10 minutes after we finished, they were playing a full-court basketball game.'' said Posnack.
He said that the stained glass windows, which will be sold, will soon be removed and replaced by heavily insulated bullet-proof windows as part of a plan to give the facility more of a secular appearance.
''They were scheduled to be removed by now but a lot of work has been delayed due to the vandalism which took place last year,'' said Posnack.
Last March the Vestry of the church accepted the club's offer to purchase the land and buildings for a reported price of $700,000. The property provides 17,000-square-feet of space between the ground floor and half-basement and sits on a 1.3-acre lot.
The new facility includes eight program rooms, which will provide space for academic support, art, small group activity, and computers, a 5,000-square-foot great room for indoor recreation, drama, dance, music, and social opportunities, a modern institutional kitchen for nutrition programs, cooking lessons, independent living skill building, and many meals as well as a spacious community room which will house a Kids Cafe and Game Room.
Last November the club was awarded a $250,000 grant by the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority, which will be applied toward the acquisition of the building. It also has applied for a second $250,000 grant for the project, both of which have been applied for through the Belknap County Commission.