Friday, May 24, 2013
WATERVILLE -- Construction of a $2.9 million Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter on Colby Circle is on schedule and expected to open in September, according to shelter officials.
NEW HOME: Workers continue building the new Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter off Colby Street in Waterville last week.
Staff photo by David Leaming
LET'S EAT: Workers are shown in the large kitchen area at the new Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter in Waterville last week.
Staff photo by David Leaming
The 40-bed shelter will replace the 18-bed shelter on nearby Ticonic Street, which is full and has a waiting list of more than 50 people, according to Douglas Cutchin, chairman of the shelter's capital campaign.
"It's going very briskly," Cutchin said Tuesday of the construction. "Things have been going very well. The exterior is pretty much complete and we're finishing sheet rock inside and they're painting rooms. The exterior, I think, looks very nice."
The new 16,600-square-foot shelter, across from Waterville District Court, is on 2 acres. It will have about 25 parking spaces.
"Things are going great, actually -- we're a little bit ahead of schedule," said Kevin Joseph, chairman of the shelter's board of directors.
Joseph said Wednesday that officials are eager to move into the new space.
"It's exciting for a number of reasons, but one, it's going to help serve a big need in the area -- help take care of a lot of people that need help," he said.
The two-story shelter will have a large resource and homeless prevention room, a wing for women and children, kitchen, dining area and laundry room, among other features, according to Cutchin. The shelter not only houses and feeds homeless people; it also connects them with resources and social services and helps them to find jobs and places to live.
Sheridan Corp. of Fairfield is doing the construction with help from a lot of contractors, Cutchin said.
Joseph said some people have asked why the shelter is so large. Both he and Cutchin said a donor who asked not to be identified realized the shelter would need extra space and donated a large sum to build a second floor. Joseph said that floor may be used to house certain programs -- for which the shelter would be reimbursed -- to help people who are eligible. Organizations that help homeless people served by the shelter also may use space on that floor, Joseph said.
"A lot of these programs are looking for just office space," he said. "What we're hoping to do is to have enough resources in place so we can help people before they become homeless."
Capital campaign officials set $2.8 million as a fundraising goal and have slightly exceeded that goal, Cutchin said. He said, however, that officials are raising an additional $100,000 to cover money from bequests that will not be available for more than five years.
The shelter serves people from Somerset, Franklin, and northern Kennebec and Waldo counties. The cost to operate it -- about $387,000 per year -- is not expected to change once the new shelter opens, Cutchin said.
About 55 percent of the funding comes from individuals, businesses and foundations; about 11 percent comes from special events and around 27 percent from public assistance sources such as Maine State Housing, according to the shelter's executive director, Betty Palmer.
Cutchin said a lot of people have helped to make the new shelter become reality, including a low interest rate on a bridge loan from Kennebec Savings Bank.
Many people volunteer for the shelter and the capital campaign cabinet and committee members did a great job and continue to work on the effort, Cutchin said.
Construction of the shelter started in March on Colby Circle, which is accessible from College Avenue or Front Street. It winds around in a circle and empties out onto Chaplin Street, near Railroad Square Cinema.
Cutchin said the 120-year-old building at 28 Ticonic St. will be sold after it is vacated in September.
Having the new and larger shelter will mean an overflow shelter that was opened the last two winters in the basement of First Baptist Church on Park Street will not have to open this year, according to Joseph.
An open house is planned for the new shelter as soon as it is completed and inspected, according to Joseph.
Amy Calder -- 861-9247