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Concord YMCA seeks $500,000 federal grant for renovations

  • Staffers Jen Adams (left) and Hason Mailhot (center) play with 2-year-olds during a child care program at the YMCA’s Child Development Center in downtown Concord on Tuesday. BELOW: Staffer Lee Tepper helps 2-year-old Alessandra Sallese with her New Year’s Eve photo frame project. ELIZABETH FRANTZ photos / Monitor staff

  • Staffer Lee Tepper helps 2-year-old Alessandra Sallese with her New Year's Eve photo frame craft project during a child care program at the YMCA’s Child Development Center in downtown Concord on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Concord's YMCA CEO Jim Doremus on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • The Concord YMCA Child Development Center is located in the historic fire house in downtown Concord on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • The YMCA seeks a $500,000 grant to renovate its child development center. BELOW: Concord YMCA CEO Jim Doremus. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • Scenes from the Concord YMCA Child Development Center at the historic fire house in downtown Concord on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)



Monitor staff
Saturday, December 31, 2016

It’s impossible to make the 1980s flooring look clean. The broken elevator was taken offline in the spring. And, like so many other downtown buildings, the steam heat source will stop functioning next year.

Those are some of the issues Concord’s YMCA hopes to address with a $500,000 federal grant it’s seeking.

The city is poised to back the YMCA’s application to spruce up the historic firehouse it uses for child care programs, after a committee chose the nonprofit over three other applicants in November.

The city council will hold a public hearing next month considering whether to apply on the YMCA’s behalf for a Community Development Block Grant, a federal program administered through communities to boost nonprofits that help low-income residents.

Even if the city goes ahead, the YMCA will have to vie against other applicants from around the state for an increasingly competitive pool of dollars.

But because most of the YMCA’s child care clients come from low-income families, and it’ll be able to provide a significant funding match, and the former firehouse building has such historic significance, the nonprofit is hopeful it can secure the maximum grant of $500,000.

“It would mean we don’t have to divert those funds we use for financial assistance to the building,” CEO Jim Doremus said.

The firehouse where the repairs would occur sits at 44 Warren St., adjacent to the YMCA’s main building at the corner of North State Street. Built in 1875, it’s a fixture of the downtown district that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

But more than 300 people a day travel through the building, including 150 kids, their parents, teachers and staff, and it’s showing its age, Doremus said. The YMCA is planning as much as $700,000 in improvements to the inside and outside of the building and its playground, he said, paying itself for the portion that goes beyond the CDBG’s scope.

The facility needs new flooring and painting throughout, efficient lighting, doors and jams, stairwell repairs and insulation, according to the application.

“Some of the flooring dates back to the early 1980s and it is impossible to make it look clean,” the application says. “Most of the lighting fixtures are older and are not efficient by today’s standards.”

The three-level elevator is out of service, limiting accessibility, and the playground’s 1990s equipment is “heavily worn and for safety reasons must be replaced in the near future,” the application says.

The single largest expense is the conversion to a gas-fired steam boiler, necessitated by supplier Concord Steam’s plans to go out of business in May. The YMCA’s main building has already converted, but the smaller firehouse, which represents a fraction of the needed heat, will cost another $125,000.

To get to the city council, the YMCA had to go through the city’s Community Development Advisory Committee, which sent requests for proposals to 30 Concord-based nonprofits. Four responses were received by Sept. 16.

The Crisis Center for New Hampshire sought $220,000 to renovate its emergency shelter, according to a report sent to the city council by Matt Walsh, the director of redevelopment, downtown services and special projects. But only 46 percent of the center’s clients meet the CDBG’s low-income requirement, failing to reach the required 51 percent threshold. It also wasn’t clear whether the center would provide significant matching funds, without which the project would be less likely to attain a high score, Walsh wrote.

Community Bridges sought $436,000 for a job training program, which the committee determined would be better funded by a different program.

And finally, the Concord Coalition to End Homelessness filed a letter stating it may be interested in future CDBG funding for a permanent cold-weather homeless shelter, but it’s not yet ready to apply.

The Community Development Advisory Committee unanimously supported the YMCA’s application, which will go before a public hearing Jan. 9 before the city council.

The upcoming grant round, which is the first of two this year, closes Jan. 30. Awards will likely be announced in April.

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, nreid@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @NickBReid.)