North East Community Center
 
North East Community Center has a new look
Reprinted with permission from The Millerton News, copyright The Lakeville Journal Company, LLC, 2011.

MILLERTON — The North East Community Center (NECC) revealed its renovations during an open house on Saturday, Dec. 3. Besides an exterior face lift, the interior of the building was completely remade to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

NECC Executive Director Jenny Hansell said the renovation process was a long time in the making.

In 2007, NECC polled the community for feedback and received overwhelming praise for its services, but was shocked to hear that one of its biggest weaknesses was its building's condition.

Hansell said the poll responses often described the building as unwelcoming and shabby.

Once the NECC committed itself to getting a face lift, it began raising the $50,000 needed to complete the project.

Hansell said the two main attributes she wanted the new space to have were "warm" and "welcoming." She also wanted it to be neat, organized and flexible enough to meet the needs of all of the groups that offer programs there.

With the help of architect Pilar Proffitt of Poesis Design and Donald Najdek of EcoBuilders, the NECC set out to create the perfect space to meet all of its needs.

The renovation projects included installing a new floor, changing out the lighting to create a brighter space, repairing the ceiling, replacing pillars, adding a new office on the lower floor, building lots of storage spaces and fixing plumbing and electrical problems.

"They really went above and beyond to solve problems we didn't even know we had," said Hansell.

Cleaning up the neighboring grassy lot, bringing in new furniture and splashing the walls with a fresh coat of pumpkin-hued paint added the finishing touches.

"It took a really long time, but it was worth the wait," said Hansell, who described the new space as flexible, attractive and perfect for all of the programs that happen within its walls.

"Now we're something the community can feel good about having here,' she said, explaining that while the community appreciated the NECC's work before, it wasn't excited about how the location looked and felt. "We couldn't do [the renovations] without the support of the community."

Hansell said that one of the other goals of the renovation was to create a space that told the story of what the NECC does. Having a presentable space helps with that.

The new space also features a blackboard that takes up an entire wall so that the NECC can leave messages for the community and inform the public about upcoming events, programs and services. Along the other walls hang photographs and posters to give a more tangible face to the things the NECC provides for the community.

Future plans

"We've had the face-lift we needed," declared a poster displayed in the new space. On the bottom was a wish list of additional items needed to finish the renovations, bring the community together and protect the investment in NECC. Each item was followed by the donation amount needed to purchase each item. Included on the list were:

Additional chairs for classes: $20 each

Books and toys for children: $50

Vacuum cleaner: $120

New backyard fencing: $200

Video surveillance system: $500

Burglar alarm and one-year contract: $1,000

Sidewalk repairs: $2,000

Hansell said that long-term plans for the building include adding on more space to meet the growing needs of the NECC's programs and bringing more offices to the first floor since the building does not have an elevator.