YARMOUTH — What used to be a dark, cramped space with a small bathroom, kitchen, laundry and storage area has been transformed into a well-lit, warm and welcoming community facility for the residents of Bartlett Circle.
The space has been updated to include a sun room, full kitchen, a handicapped-accessible bathroom with full shower, a dining and reading area and an outside patio.
Margaret Downing, president of Yarmouth Senior Housing, said the renovations exceeded her expectations.
Bartlett Circle provides affordable independent community housing for seniors, but it is 35 years old and was in need of renovations. The housing facility was created by nine Yarmouth citizens concerned about their parents’ living situations. In 1975 they formed Yarmouth Senior Housing, a non-profit organization with a volunteer board of directors that until recently was able to run the project without local, state or federal assistance.
But starting in 2005, board members began to plan the upgrades needed to keep the facility safe for its residents.
The first phase of the plan was to upgrade the living facilities. Beginning in March, 2009, the board launched a fundraising campaign to raise money for repairs to the 28-unit housing facility. Contractors repaired the walkways, put in new lighting and created wider apartment entrances.
The second phase of renovations focused on making the community building a safe emergency shelter.
Downing said with about $165,00 provided by the Community Development Block Grant Program, a $135,000 loan from the USDA Rural Development program, $20,000 from the town and numerous contributions from residents, businesses and service organizations, the community building is now updated and complete.
“This is the result of about six years of work and we are absolutely thrilled,” she said. “I feel very, very good about where we are now. We will certainly be here another 35 years.”
The Yarmouth Rotary and the Lions Club built a new shed, then contractor Nick Beaulieu of Gardiner was able to start construction, designed by architect Frank Oliva of Bridge Street, she said.
“Now that the second and final phase is complete, we want to create a memorial garden for the founders,” she said.
On Friday, Aug. 19, at 2 p.m., the board of directors will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house for the new community building. Residents, supporters, friends and family members are invited to celebrate the completion of the upgrades, Downing said.
Margaret Downing, left, president of Yarmouth Senior Housing, and Sandra McCatherin Barron, manager of Bartlett Circle, stand in front of the newly renovated community building. The building now has the amenities needed to be an emergency shelter, with laundry, a full kitchen and bathroom, and an added sunroom and dining space. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place Friday, Aug. 19, at 2 p.m.