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Special-needs school among highlights at Brunswick Landing

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Special-needs school among highlights at Brunswick Landing

BRUNSWICK — Before Providence of Maine moved its two schools and early learning center from Bath to Brunswick Landing, it had limited space.

After moving onto the former naval air station last year with around 100 employees, the company is now one of Brunswick Landing's largest tenants and has plenty of space to grow.

"Bath wasn't that far away by any means, but it does have a different feel being in Brunswick," Corinne Whitling Walker, Providence's regional vice president, said. "You just feel a little bit more closer and connected. It's a little more centralized."

Providence is one of the many highlights in what the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, the quasi-municipal organization mandated by the state to redevelop the base that closed in 2011, considers a successful year.

MRRA sent its annual report to Gov. Paul LePage earlier this week, reporting on more than a dozen businesses that moved to Brunswick Landing in 2013.

"It's been a pretty phenomenal year," Steve Levesque, MRRA's executive director, said. "... We have a solid partnership with the state and community - a lot of what we're doing is because the community stepped up."

One of the ways in which the community stepped up is when the town's Planning Board last February approved a major subdivision of land, which ultimately allowed Topsham-based Priority Group to lease two former U.S. Navy buildings to Providence for 12 years.

Whitling Walker said the two buildings, which the company moved into last September, has provided Providence the right kind of space for its two schools and its early learning center.

"For these buildings, we were able to design to our needs," she said, explaining the large-scale renovations that were done.  "We worked with a local developer were really able to say this is what we needed structurally."

The company operates Merrymeeting School, a K-12 school for children with autism and similar diagnoses, and Achieve, a K-12 school for children with emotional and behavioral disabilities.

Students are sent to one of the two schools based on referrals from their Individualized Education Program at public schools.

Providence also operates an early learning center, which includes a child-care program, pre-school program and special programs for children who get referrals from child development services.

Whitling Walker said while the move has helped the company in many ways, it has especially helped the expansion of Providence's early learning center.

And that could go a long way.

"The great thing about this space is we've been able to expand that program and provide specially designed instructions to little ones," she said. "The earlier you can identify and capture students (with different kinds of behavioral diagnoses) at a younger age, the higher rates of success we have historically seen." 

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or dmartin@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DylanLJMartin.