Changes at St. John the Baptist Catholic parish

Kelly Doren/Register

Fundraising continues for a new community gym and youth center at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and School, with the city to be asked to convert Caymus Street into a one-way street, sponsors say.

The proposed 17,000-square-foot Napa Valley Youth Center would provide year-round athletic activities and other after-school and summer programs for school-aged youth who are 17 and under, said Priscilla Silvey, the youth center’s development chair. The facility would include a two-story, 11,000-square-foot gym, complete with a running track on the second level.

St. John’s is still working on securing grants and sponsorships to reach its fundraising goal of $5.8 million. So far, $2.75 million has been raised, Silvey said.

Construction on the new facility should be under way by 2014, she said. Groundbreaking on the second construction phase, the multipurpose grass sports field, will take place after the main facility is built.

The grass sports field was originally scheduled for installation this past summer, but officials decided it made more sense to construct the gym and youth center first, Silvey explained.

The Napa Valley Youth Center’s grand opening is expected in late 2014 or early 2015, she said.

The main goal of the non-denominational facility is to help serve the needs of children in central Napa — particularly students who might otherwise be vulnerable to delinquency, drug abuse and gang violence, advocates say.

By building the new facility on the school’s playground at the corner of Main and Caymus streets, St. John’s would lose a 52-space parking area. The school is working with the city to replace some of those parking spaces by converting Caymus into a one-way street with parking. A traffic circle would also be installed between the church and school to help aid parents with drop-off and pick-up.

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The city’s planning department is currently reviewing the plans of the Caymus Street project, according to St. John’s officials.

The Napa Valley Youth Center is still on track to be completed in about two to two-and-a-half years, but construction is on hold until the Caymus Street work is finished, school officials said.

Principal Nancy Jordan said about 150 families drop off and pick up their children every school day, with each process taking about 15 minutes. She did not anticipate the loss of the campus parking lot to cause much concern among parents.

“Because the parking lot is used as a playground during the school day, there is only very limited parking currently available for parents and only during pick-up,” Jordan said. “Parents seem to be more focused on the exciting reality that St. John’s will have a gym.”

St. John’s school children will have full access to the gym and youth center during the normal school day. The facilities will then be open to other children in the community after school, in the evenings and on weekends.

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