Neighborhood Club Director Guides Center’s Journey into the Future
Century-old organization gets a fresh approach with its Neighborhood Club Recreation and Wellness Center, all under the watchful eye of new director Stuart Alderman.
Just as the Neighborhood Club has come down, left in a pile of rubble and debris, the club's new leader, Stuart Alderman, is just beginning to build his career here.
Alderman's been on the job three months and is already overseeing what is likely the club's most transformational change: the construction of a spacious, two-story, modern, well-equipped recreation and wellness center.
Alderman, whose temporary office at the Grosse Pointe Congregational Church is strewn with blueprints, architectural plans, interior design boards and collections of sports paraphernalia, will head a team that will bring the Grosse Pointes the first-of-its-kind community center.
The new Neighborhood Club Recreation and Wellness Center is a partnership between the Neighborhood Club and Beaumont Health System, which is leasing space from the Neighborhood Club. The Beaumont portion of the center will include therapy, rehabilitation services and medical practices and a children's center for special needs children.
Building a state-of-the-art facility
The 100-year-old Neighborhood Club will run a fitness center, multi-purpose gym, nursery school service, five-lane lap pool, athletic training area, rowing room, spinning bikes and more in nearly 49,000 square feet of space. There will be a gym with a wooden floor painted for volleyball, basketball and pickleball.
There will be a heated five-lane pool with children's features such as a water-spouting baseball bat and faux rock slide.
The plan is to use the pool and meeting rooms at the center for community events such as birthday parties, which is a whole new market for the Neighborhood Club.
Opening day should come around December 2012 or January 2013.
The preschool program at the Neighborhood Club, now housed at the church, will remain. The Neighborhood Club's thrift shop is shopping for a new home elsewhere, and Services for Older Citizens, which was located at the old building, is finding its own place to serve senior citizens.
Most, if not all, of the club's recreational sports leagues should go unchanged and enrichment courses could be altered based on public feedback, Alderman says.
"Basically it's not just a new day for the Neighborhood Club, it's really a new day for the community," Alderman said recently from his temporary office at the church.
"We are very excited about how this could change the lives of people in the community….A lot of hard work, by many people has gone into this for years," he says, looking at the many signs of that work all around him in picture boards and design schematics.
A man of many accomplishments
To talk about the organization and what it wants to do for the community, to give credit to others for good work, to divert attention from himself is Alderman's way.
There are many accomplishments on his resume, but Alderman breezes by them, offering compliments to longtime employees of the club.
Professionally, Alderman was director of Troy's recreation department for 26 years; eight years before that he was director of the Oak Park recreation department.
Alderman has won many honors and awards for his work with the community, especially the sports community.
He has been involved with the Metro Detroit Amateur Softball Association since 1979, a voting member of the association's national council, and a board member of Detroit Metro Sports Commission Advisory Board. He was also on the board of directors of the Michigan Senior Olympics from 2008-11.
He has served as president of the Michigan Recreation and Park Association and as state chairman for the MRPA Hoops Challenge, a former program of the National Basketball Association.
He was a volunteer supercaptain for Super Bowl XL in Detroit in 2006 and volunteer point guard leader during the NCAA’s Final Four men’s basketball tournament at Ford Field in 2009. In 1991, the Troy Chamber of Commerce named Alderman a “Hometown Hero” after he initiated a marketing campaign to achieve Sports Illustrated’s No. 1 Sportstown award for Troy.
He is also responsible for reviving the NFL's Punt, Pass and Kick program in Michigan schools. The program had petered out until Alderman revived it through his recreation department and then approached the Detroit Lions about spreading it and got the OK from the NFL.
"One thing that's great about this is the smiles on the kids' faces….I love doing things that make people happy, make people smile," says Alderman, the Michigan state chairman for Punt, Pass & Kick, a job that has him coordinating a massive halftime show at a Detroit Lions game each year. He plans the event so that hundreds of people are where they're supposed to be down to the minute.
He loves details, and his office speaks to that. The blueprints and building plans bear his and his team's changes, including a decision to use the space in the basement for other amenities. Even down to the tile and the woodwork–a cherry-like finish with greens and neutrals for clean and contemporary look– Alderman is involved.
The interior design plans are what he looks at every day, if he spins around in his desk chair. The blueprints are on a table he walks past first thing in the morning last thing at night–with plenty of stops in between.
Overseeing the vision for the center
Alderman took over as executive director of the Neighborhood Club July 1. He is only the second person in 40 years to hold the position. Alderman stepped in for Sean Bruce, who served as interim director after John Bruce, the director since 1971 stepped down last January.
Alderman's tenure will no doubt be connected to the new recreation and wellness center that will change the landscape of the corner of St. Clair and Waterloo, and likely of the Village business district as a whole. He may also be known for the changes he brings to the club's programming–what they will be is not yet known.
"We want to know what people are looking for, what they will use," he says.
Alderman, 54, has three children, two of whom played sports through the Neighborhood Club. He loves sports for sure, which can be seen in the football helmets–thank you's for his Punt, Pass and Kick work–on the file cabinet in his office.
A University of Michigan jar contains maize and blue jellybeans. He's a fan, but his alma mater is Central Michigan. He promises the Neighborhood Club won't be exclusively about sports.
"We're going to see where this takes us…We're going to look at all opportunities, possibilities," he said. "We're not holding onto the past. We want to be the place that takes this community into the future."