Former St. Ann's school is roomier and brighter
Think the people who frequent Fairmount Community Center aren’t ecstatic about the move into a new location? Ronald Ladd of Independence has an answer for that train of thought.
“We are living now,” Ladd said as he left the center’s new location at 217 S. Cedar Ave., the site of the former St. Ann Catholic Elementary School. “I love it. It’s a lot better than the old one (at 608 S. Ash Ave.). That other place was too old.”
Warren Adams-Leavitt, executive director of the Northwest Communities Development Corporation that operates the Fairmount Center, said the center opened to the public about a week ago, a week after Adams-Leavitt and his staff moved their administrative offices into the new location.
“Most are delighted by the move,” Adams-Leavitt said. “The other building was an old movie theater and it was essentially a basement. It didn’t have many windows.”
The Fairmount Community Center opened on South Ash in 1999 after the conversion of the old Byam Theater. The building – after a change of ownership, Adams-Leavitt said – lacked basic repairs and was deteriorating rapidly.
“There were 15-foot ceilings in the old building which sucked up the light,” Adams-Leavitt said. “People are real excited about this place.”
Adams-Leavitt said in October the NWCDC signed a lease with the Catholic Diocese to lease the building and has spent the past four months renovating. He estimated the NWCDC invested close to $150,000, with more than half of that being donated materials and labor.
Most of the renovations were on the second floor, Adams-Leavitt said, which is handicap accessible to the parking lot. Three classrooms were consolidated and the space now houses a commercial kitchen and cafeteria. The former secretary and principal’s offices are now an office for the NWCDC Home Repair Program and space for the Community Center’s staff.
“We now have more space and that has opened up other program opportunities,” Adams-Leavitt said. “We may offer in the future a possible health clinic or GED classes and job training.”
Paulette Detillier, president of Era Environmental and Safety, has run an environmental job placement program out of the center for three years.
Graduates from the program earn certificates in asbestos removal and hazardous waste removal among other environmental safety certificates. Participants have helped remove asbestos from the new site as part of their hands-on-training.
Detillier said Fairmount Center’s move has “done wonders for our program.”
On April 29, the Northwest Communities Development Corporation will host an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the move of the Fairmount Community Center to its new location at 217 S.Cedar Ave.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house will begin at 4 p.m.
Page 2 of 2 - Mayor Don Reimal will speak at 11:30 a.m. to the participants of the center’s senior lunch program.