BUCKSPORT, Maine — The town has received a $250,000 state grant for work at Gardner Commons, the former junior high school building that was converted to housing for the elderly.
The $3.8 million conversion project was completed in 2008 creating 26 apartments in the former school. The town has worked with the Eastern Area Agency on Aging to develop the project and EAA provides on-site services for the residents there.
According to Town Manager Roger Raymond, the grant will allow the town “to make a number of improvements that were pulled out of the original plans because we didn’t have enough money.”
“Most of those improvements are service-oriented,” he said Tuesday.
One of the key projects will be to install a covered entryway, Raymond said. It will provide residents with a covered area where they can drive up to the entrance to unload their vehicles. That will be especially important during the winter months when the parking lot is covered with snow or ice, he said.
The grant also will allow the town to complete the large commercial kitchen at the site, which will make it possible to provide community meals for the residents there.
Other projects will include adding secured individual storage areas for the residents, adding ceiling fans in each of the apartments, and improving drainage in the parking lot and access through the heavy fire doors inside the building.
The apartment complex provides housing for 26 residents, mainly women over 65 who are the heads of households and need some services in order to live on their own, Raymond said.
Although the town has put on hold plans to develop another housing project for the elderly, Raymond said it will be working this summer to develop innovative ways to provide additional services to elderly residents using the Gardner Commons facility.