Greenville working on child care center
GREENVILLE — Earlier this year $1.5 million in federal funding was secured with the passage of the 2023 omnibus spending bill to build a facility on the Greenville Consolidated School campus to house a childcare center, pre-K classrooms, and community recreation center. The project is still in the early development stages but the Greenville Select Board passed a motion of support during its April 5 meeting.
Janet Chasse of the Moosehead Caring for Kids Foundation met with town officials. She said currently a daycare facility is being housed at the snowmobile club with about 20 children attending daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“The foundation is actually a spinoff of the committee that you guys approved last year,” Chasse said. “We still need to keep that committee because the foundation has become a nonprofit, but the daycare’s nonprofit status is still in progress and probably will be until September.”
She said the distribution of the $1.5 million needs to be formally set up. “The building all along is going to be donated to the town,” Chasse said, saying it likely makes sense to donate the money to the town first. Once construction is complete, she believes the structure will need to be donated to the town.
The Moosehead Caring for Kids Foundation has been exploring the exact process to donate to the town and Chasse asked the select board to do likewise.
Town Manager Mike Roy said the foundation would be the grantee and overseer of funds and the town would be the sub-grantee.
“There are some things we will have to do as a sub-grantee that’s been discussed at our meetings and we’re still working on the details,” he said. The town would be behind setting up building requests for proposals.
With material costs rising, Chasse said fundraising would likely be needed for funds beyond the $1.5 million. She said the foundation would like floor space for 60-plus children ranging from infants to students coming by after school.
The facility would offer programs in early childhood education. “We will have probably eight full-time jobs there,” Chasse said.
Select Chairperson Geno Murray said the board still needs a clear understanding of the organizational structure and the roles and responsibilities of the foundation and the town. He recognized the importance of childcare, calling it a “phenomenally important issue for the community.”
In other business, Moosehead Lake Region Economic Development Corp. President Margarita Contreni provided an update on a Spruce Street housing project. She said the MLREDC considers the workforce housing initiative its biggest priority as the organization has been working with Northern Light CA Dean Hospital and the Northern Forest Center over the last year-plus.
The Northern Forest Center is looking to bring middle-income housing to the community as it has done by purchasing homes and turning them into rental units in Millinocket and Lancaster, New Hampshire. The organization has joined with the town of Greenville, Northern Light CA Dean Hospital, Northern Light Health, and the MLREDC to develop a housing unit on about 5 acres on Spruce Street off Pritham Avenue to help remedy the housing issues near Moosehead Lake.
As in the rest of Maine, Greenville in recent years has been experiencing a lack of available middle-income housing. Many homes put on the market are quickly purchased to serve as Airbnbs or second homes, and lower-income housing has strict residency requirements that precludes young workers from living there.
Contreni said about a week ago the hospital board decided the time was not right and terms didn’t match those of the Northern Forest Center to develop its 15 acres on Spruce Street, but hospital officials are still being involved in plans for MLREDC acreage.
“The first step really now is on Monday we’d like to have a public forum, not that has anything to do with the permitting process through the planning board, this is is a preliminary meeting and (we) invite the public really to hear from folks in the community why this need is so critical,” Contreni said about the April 10 session with feedback still sought after Monday.
She said Northern Light CA Hospital President Marie Vienneau was set to speak as was Northern Forest Center Senior Program Director Mike Wilson and community educational and business leaders. Contreni said the project is not at the design phase, but the MLREDC wants to hear from the public on “rent vs. own, number of rooms, one bedroom, two bedroom, three bedroom. What other amenities would be desirable?”
“Our hope is we’ll get started this summer to get the design plan and go through the permitting process,” she said about reviews by the planning board. The construction schedule and the number of units to be built are all to be determined.
In his town manager’s report Roy gave an update on the public safety building project. “As you can see there’s a big parking lot across from the town office now that the fire station has been [demolished],” he said, thanking everyone who helped clean out items to make way for the new building.
He said nearly 600 pounds of copper was removed to be recycled. The town manager said he drove a pickup truck full of copper to the recycling center in Troy and this brought in more than $1,600 for the town.
Sheridan Construction is doing site work and hopes to have concrete in on or by April 19.
“The moving of the 4-bay garage went off without any issues, a lot of participation from Central Maine Power, Consolidated Communications, Premium Choice, police and fire as well,” Roy said about another project to move and repurpose the public works structure. The garage was moved to the the public works property to help make way for the new public safety building
Currently fire trucks are housed at the Bartley’s Barn on Pritham Avenue and Mike Theriault’s Garage in the industrial park during the construction. Fire Chief Sawyer Murray is working out of the police station across Minden Street.
The public safety building will house the fire and police departments to help with outdated spaces and building code violations.