LOCK HAVEN - The proposed new senior center has received all its approvals and work might be underway "by winter," Janet Alling, president and CEO of STEP, said.
The community action agency proposes to renovate the former Kmart store at one end of Clinton Plaza, at 120 E. Walnut St., into a center for all STEP services in Clinton County, she said.
This will include a long-anticipated and much-needed senior community center, as well as classrooms for the Head Start children's program.
The City Planning Commission approved the proposal Wednesday evening, with members asking only a few questions.
Joe Gherardi, civil designer with Stahl Sheaffer Engineering LLC, has been working with city staff, Zoning Officer Cyndi Walker told the planners, and has modified the plans to address the city's concerns.
The proposal also was approved by the County Planning Commission on Tuesday.
The next move is to firm up the funding, Alling said.
The project is to receive $2.25 million in state capital funds, she said, thanks to the efforts of state Sen. John Wozniak and state Rep. Mike Hanna. A local and/or federal match is needed, and STEP is applying for federal grants to help finance the Head Start portion of the plan as well as for a loan from USDA.
STEP plans to renovate at least 2,700 square feet of the 5,500 square feet available, she said, and may be able to do more work, depending on the amount of funding that comes through.
A playground will be constructed in back of the building, along with a landscaped rain garden to filter stormwater run-off.
The playground and garden also will reduce the amount of impervious surface at the plaza, Walker said, which should aid in stormwater management.
The new Clinton County Community Center, as it will be called, will be active five days a week and available to be rented for weekend events, Alling said.
"We're excited about it," she said. "We hope the community will be excited and will use it for other things too."
The former store will hold at least five Head Start classrooms, the senior center with an exercise room, a kitchen area for preparing snacks and offices.
"It will be the contact point for all services in this county," Alling said.
The Meals on Wheels dispatch point also will move over from the Jaycee hall on West Water Street where STEP currently rents office space and the large basement room and kitchen area for a senior center.
The new kitchen won't be used to prepare major meals, Alling said. The Head Start and senior lunches will continue to be provided by Frey's Commissary, as will the Meals on Wheels for shut-in area residents.
As part of the project, the old sprinkler system will be replaced, Alling assured the planners.
A total of 120 parking spaces are allotted to the former Kmart end of the plaza, and this number reportedly exceeds requirements by just two spaces.
The project includes the laying of an inch and a half of new asphalt in the lot, Gherardi said, attaching a canopy to the front entrance and clearing brush along Myrtle Street. The brush will be replaced with the appropriately named ground cover "creeping myrtle," he said.
The meeting was delayed for 20 minutes while Walker called missing members of the planning commission, in an effort to attain a quorum of four voting members. Patty Carroll had just returned from a trip and quickly drove to City Hall for the session.
The commission has had trouble raising a quorum because three seats are currently vacant, Walker said.
Any city resident interested in serving is urged to contact City Hall, phone 893-5900.