Central Hall transforming for the 21st century
DOVER-FOXCROFT — The project to revitalize Central Hall and keep the late 19th century building on East Main Street as a part of the community and the region is progressing as construction is transforming the interior and financial contributions are making everything possible.
“There are three parts to this project,” said Chris Maas, treasurer of the non-profit Maine Highlands Senior Center which will be located at Central Hall, last week. He said the senior center will be located on front portion of the building’s first floor and the rear of the floor will house the Adult Day Service Center. “The event center is on the second floor and that is to be managed by the Center Theatre,” Maas said.
“You can think of the Adult Day Service Center as roughly the equivalent of a nursing home but during the daytime,” Maas said walking among through the rows of studs that will become the different center rooms. He said there will be space for bathrooms, showers, a nurse’s facility “and a couple of quiet rooms with a cot.”
The west side of Central Hall includes a 12-foot addition for both floors, and Maas said the new structure will provide a kitchen and dining area and a day room for the Adult Day Service Center — which will be licensed by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. He said the center will have its own ramped entrance by River Street.
“This will be the last thing to be done but to me it’s the most important,” Maas said, as residents of the region caring for family members themselves will have a place where their loved ones can be looked after by trained professionals for portions of mornings and/or early afternoons.
“Now we are in the senior center,” Maas said after walking through a doorway which will separate the two first floor facilities once the doors arrive. The East Main Street-side of the first floor of Central Hall will be the site of activities for independent seniors and a place for these residents to gather and will be managed by the Maine Highlands Senior Center.
“We believe the Senior Center and Adult Day Service Center will serve the community, and by community we mean from Monson to Brownville and Charleston to Dexter,” Maas said. “We do not see this as a Dover-Foxcroft project.”
He said the intended area served by the programs at Central Hall is made up of about 27,000 residents, with many aged 60 and up. “We see this as a need for us,” Maas said.
The senior center has an elevator, which Maas said could be installed in January, to aid with carrying items to the event center on the second floor. He said the upper level will still feature a stage and floor space with the facility designed in conjunction by the Center Theatre.
Maas said the hall stage will provide rehearsal space for Center Theatre productions, freeing up the theatre stage down the street for more revenue-generating productions. Central Hall will have needed storage space for the Center Theatre and will allow the theatre to host new types of shows such as dinner theater.
“Basically it is their stage to manage, they are excited about it,” Maas said. “This should end up being a big help to the arts community here in town.”
“We are already getting requests to schedule weddings,” Maas said, saying Central Hall will be a unique venue for these events. He said while these requests — which will be handled by the Center Theatre — are coming in, a definitive schedule will be determined once more work has been completed.
The finished event center will include a kitchen area and bathrooms. Maas said the balcony will be roped off for productions and gatherings as this area is not handicapped-accessible.
A new propane furnace heats Central Hall and Maas said the building has 14 different zones. “We can control heat throughout the building which will help with costs,” he said.
“We are using the work release program from Charleston Correctional for some of this work,” Maas said. He said everywhere else in the building local contractors are making the upgrades whenever possible. “75 cents of every $1 spent on construction has gone to local suppliers and contractors.”
No town funds have gone toward the project. Central Hall is currently deeded to the Dover-Foxcroft Historical Society — this move was done to enable for brownfields clean-up grant monies to be used to remove lead paint and some asbestos — but ownership will return to Dover-Foxcroft in the future.
“All together this project will come in at just under $2 million,” Maas said about construction costs, with about $1.5 million already in place through grants and contributions.
“To date we’ve received donations from almost 300 individuals, from Dover-Foxcroft, throughout Maine, 20 other states and two other countries,” he said. “We are extremely grateful for their support and they will continue to receive our occasional updates on the project. ”
“The next $100,000 allows us to open the building, it allows us to use the second floor,” Maas said with these funds covering the installation of sprinklers and the completion of electrical work. “That gets people in the building and gets some revenue in.”
“If we have $100,000 we could probably open the building in April, we are that close,” he said.
Maas estimated about $250,000 is needed to complete the Adult Day Service Center and the rest of the first floor. “The next $150,000 basically lets us start up the programs,” he said, such as purchasing equipment and hiring staff. He said the facility will provide five or six jobs, such as a nurse, social workers and certified medical assistants qualified to dispense medications.
Tax-deductible contributions can be made via check to The Maine Highlands Senior Center P.O. 693 Dover-Foxcroft ME 04426 or through Paypal at www.centralhallcommons.org.
“Everything is tax-deductible, get a hold of us and we can accommodate,” Maas said.
More information on contributions can be had by emailing Dr. Lesley Fernow at firstname.lastname@example.org; Dr. Richard Swett at email@example.com or Mary Annis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the project in general, contact Maas at 924-4553 or email@example.com.