Ken Suthons of the Fenwick Lions beside a metal recycling bin at the clubhouse at Centennial Park. The club is looking for metal donations. DON RICKERS

The Fabulous Fenwick Lions, who were chartered in 1949 and over the ensuing decades have raised large sums for worthy projects and local charities, need the public’s help for a change.

Their clubhouse is structurally deteriorating, and spokesperson Ken Suthons told the Voice that rather than continuing to pump money into major repairs, the decision has been made to consider a replacement building at 999 Church Street, in Fenwick’s Centennial Park.

“Realistically, we’re looking down the road as far as 10 years, being able to entertain the thought of proceeding with construction of a new home. The building we have now doesn’t meet current building standards for insulation and wiring. The washrooms are antiquated, and the kitchen needs to be expanded,” he said. “We have a new furnace and air conditioner, but because it’s an old building, they are not totally efficient.”

The current building was previously a machine shop, donated years ago by Atlas Steel in Welland.

“It was long before my time, but they brought the building here, excavated, and built a foundation out of cinder blocks. It’s just an old building that has outlived its usefulness,” said Suthons.

Some preliminary work produced a plan for a 300-seat facility, but the $1.4 million price tag was far too rich for the club.

“We’re trying to whittle it down to seating for about 125 people, at a much reduced cost,” said Suthons.

It was Suthons who suggested that collecting used metal products for recycling was a way to raise some seed funds for the clubhouse replacement. A dumpster supplied by V&R Scrap Metal Recycling now sits beside the building, and is available for community residents to contribute materials.

“V&R is contributing the dumpster to us free of charge, and we will split the proceeds from the recycled materials 50/50,” said Suthons.

With 47 active members, the Fenwick Lions have a number of annual fundraising ventures. Their bi-weekly fish fries, hosted from Good Friday until the end of October, typically draw hundreds of people on each occasion, and gross about $5000 each. The Classic Car Show and Classic Car Raffle likely raise the most money for charities, said Suthons.

“Each year we buy a classic American car, like a Camaro or Chevelle, that is not going to require any restoration,“ he said. “We’ve always stuck with a General Motors product because of GM’s presence in the region, and the fact that a lot of the local guys are GM retirees.”