HARTLAND — Eleven months of effort went into this week’s announcement of plans for the Irving Tanning Community Center in Hartland.
If fund-raising goals are reached, the plans would result in the construction of a new gymnasium, computer center, and space for day care and after-school care for local children, educational enrichment, and a site for town recreation programs. Estimated cost for the project is $1.2 million.
For a long time, officials at Irving Tanning, the town’s largest employer, felt there was a need for child care services in the community. Town officials wanted a place in the community for teen-agers who otherwise might be on the streets. The school district was looking for a viable way to remodel and upgrade the nearly 50-year-old Hartland Consolidated School. There also was a need for space for social service agencies to meet with clients in the community.
With the proposal for a community center, members of the Hartland Child Care Task Force hope to meet those needs and more.
“This plan kind of fell together,” SAD 48 Superintendent William Braun said Tuesday, explaining that any hopes of state school construction money is “dead in the water.” He expects it could be 2005 before any SAD 48 project is selected for new construction through the Department of Education.
“We can’t wait that long,” said Braun. “We need to look at different ways to solve our problem and meet community needs.”
“We let the town know we might be interested in funding a project in terms of capital needs,” said Bob Jones, the representative of Irving Tanning participating in the Hartland Child Care Task Force. “We’re just not interested in running a center.”
Irving’s involvement will provide the seed money to leverage state and local funds for the project. The partners in the proposal hope to fund the remainder of the project with a Community Development Block Grant of $250,000 from the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development, and a municipal bond issue of $750,000.
SAD 48’s recent addition to Eastland Elementary School in Corinna served as a model of how a similar project could be developed in Hartland. An addition consisting of an gymnasium, computer center and classrooms was built.
In-kind donations from KVCAP, the local community action program, and from architect Stephen Blatt of Portland, designer of the $1.8 million Corinna addition, helped trim some of the expected costs. Blatt will help redesign the Corinna plans to meet the needs in Hartland.
“As a school, we want to provide the best service we can for the community. And we need to create more space for our programs,” said Braun. “It’s a marriage of two opportunities.”
Working with KVCAP, town officials and the school department, the task force distributed three surveys in 1997 to find out what townspeople and neighboring communities saw as the needs to be filled by a community center. In addition to preschool child care and education, the survey results asked for before- and after-school programs, evening family and youth activities, health services and education, probation and parole counseling services, parent support groups, community computer center, recreation and space for a variety of lessons.
“This will be a massive benefit to the kids of this town,” said Hartland Town Manager Peggy Morgan. “What more could you want?”
The center will mirror the addition in Corinna as an annex to the Hartland Consolidated School to house the new gymnasium, additional classroom and meeting space. The school district will lease the new space and provide maintenance and supplies.
On Tuesday, Braun was developing another grant application for federal funding for community service to help run the new center.
A public meeting to discuss the project Tuesday night was canceled because of icy road conditions. A second hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 15. Community participation in the hearing is an essential part of the application process.