WEST HARTFORD — Officials are getting ready to accept $2.5 million in state money to offset the recent purchase of the former St. Brigid campus, freeing up more money to get the site ready for however the town decides to use it.
“We’re very excited,” Town Manager Matt Hart said at a recent meeting on the project, thanking the town’s state delegation for pushing the state funding through.
The town council approved purchasing the former school, at 100 Mayflower St., from Saint Gianna Parish Corporation for $3 million last month with the hopes of turning it into a community and cultural center.
The state bonding commission approved the money for the project a few weeks later in July.
“The receipt of this funding will allow us to re-purpose $2.5 million we had earmarked in the (Capital Improvement Plan) for this project,” Hart said. “Council will be able to make the decision in terms of how you want to repurpose that but it certainly might make sense to allocate it towards future steps related to this project.”
Town officials will need to sign an agreement with the state and approve a resolution, which should be done in the coming weeks. The money is coming to the town as an Urban Act Grant from the Department of Economic and Community Development.
Helen Rubino-Turco, director of leisure and social services, said they are still aiming to close on the property at the end of the month.
Once that is done, the town can start doing some of its short-term plans, while the overall final plan for its use is still being determined.
“We’re hoping that goes forward quickly because we have a food share distribution at Faxon Library and Faxon needs to resume its fall hours,” Rubino-Turco said. “We want to shift the food share distribution to the Mayflower location but we can’t do that until we own it.”
Town officials are also crafting guidelines for a building committee to help determine the site’s long-term use.
“This committee, of course, would advise on the overall mission, the development, the community outreach, that kind of thing,” Rubino-Turco said.
Hart said the advisory committee would help town administration and the town council as the project progresses through the program development and the design phase.
“This would be a committee of key stakeholders,” he said, adding this could include representatives for the libraries, parks and recreation, senior centers, as well as the community at large.
“This is a model that other communities around the state have successfully employed and we think it could work well here,” Hart said.
The outline for the committee, as well as the required resolution and state paperwork, are expected to come before town council members by next month’s meetings.