Demolition of the service center for East Texas Area Council Boy Scouts of America, 1331 E. Fifth St., across from Tyler Junior College, will start soon and when completed, construction will begin on the same site of a new center that will have a new name.
The center’s staff, Scout store and operations have moved into temporary quarters at 4908 Hightech Drive, where they will be located for the next 10 months and maintain business operations during construction.
Daniel Anderson, chief operating officer, said, “We would love to be in the new building by the end of 2020.”
The combined demolition and rebuilding project will cost about $1.25 million.
None of the funding will come from funds designated for annual operations, Anderson said.
Tom Prothro, council president and chairman of a building committee comprised of members of the council and the Boy Scouts Foundation, said the lead gift from the Murphy family is already in hand to help pay for the project.
The service center will be renamed the Foster E. Murphy Scout Service Center in tribute to Murphy’s legacy in Scouting, Anderson said.
He described Murphy, who died last year, as “the epitome of Scouting in East Texas” and said it is fitting to name the new building in Murphy’s honor.
Murphy was a former president of the board for East Texas Area Council of Boy Scouts, a Scoutmaster and one of the founding members of the East Texas Area Boy Scout Foundation.
His son, John Murphy, a member of the building committee and lead benefactor, recalled that his dad also did a lot of volunteer work for the council.
John Murphy said his father was involved for many decades with the East Texas Area Council and raised three sons who all earned the Eagle rank in scouting.
The new structure, Anderson said, will have a natural, earthy look and an environmentally conscious design with a lot of wood and stone and glass. It will be more functional and at the same time modern, efficient and technologically capable.
It will reflect the idea of the Boy Scouts as a modern, leadership, youth-serving nonprofit organization, Anderson added.
The Scouts need a new facility because the existing service center is an aging structure about 60 years old, Anderson said. Its infrastructure is running down, the roof leaks, floor tiles are coming up and it has electrical issues.
Another reason for building a new center is symbolic, Anderson said.
The old one looks like a Scout’s “grandpa’s building and we want something that looks more modern, more inviting and better reflects who we are as an organization now, as opposed to who we were as an organization 60 years ago. It’s just time for a refresh,” Anderson said.
Prothro said, “We are excited about showing a new face for the Boy Scouts. We’ve been through a lot in the last eight years and we are poised for a lot of growth in the future. Having a brand new building, I think, will tell the Scouts and the community that we are here for many years to come and we are excited about growing.”
The new building will be configured more efficiently with the right size officers, work space and for other uses, he said.
It will be more accessible to volunteers, Scoutmasters and parents and will be designed to better serve them. Upon walking in, they will be able to easily get to the person they need to talk with and to the resources they need.
The new structure will have a separate conference room with a kitchenette and restroom facilities. The conference space will be available for use by a Cub Scout pack or Boy Scout troop, a subcommittee of volunteers or even other nonprofit organizations that the boy Scouts work with.
Conference activities will not interfere with operations of the rest of the building and the conference room can be used after-hours, during business hours or on weekends. The conference/meeting space will make the service center more of a community presence, Anderson said.
The building will enable employees to be more efficient since files will not be buried deep in a closet or on a shelf 12 feet off the ground as they are now.
Anderson said, “We are going to be able to get to what we need faster and easier and better support the volunteers who help us run this program.”
Parking will be reconfigured, allowing cars to come off a side street as opposed to turning in from Fifth Street now. Parking will be oriented to make it easier for more people to park close to the building instead of parking next to houses in the neighborhood.
The Scout store will be in a glass atrium, with a brighter look and more space to display more and better serve customers.
The new service center will contain about 10% more space than the old, 8,000-square-foot center and will better utilize the space available. It will feel larger because of design changes, Anderson said.
The old facility had space no longer relevant to the council’s operations, such as a print shop, Anderson noted
The decision to rebuild in the service center’s present location was made in order for the center to continue to be easily accessible to Scouts and Scouting volunteers throughout the region, Anderson said. “We feel we have a valuable location.”
The service center serves approximately 7,000 scouts in 17 counties.