Lewiston Memorial Armory could be good home for seniors, council told

LEWISTON — Renovated space at the Memorial Armory on Central Avenue might be the best home for senior citizen programs, councilors were told Tuesday.

Lewiston City Administrator Ed Barrett and School Superintendent Bill Webster told councilors that moving senior programs to the armory and making room for expanded prekindergarten programs at the Multi-Purpose Center was the least expensive option for dealing with future school space needs.

Barrett said his staff would work to make sure it was a good solution for seniors, too.

"The biggest issue with the armory has traditionally been concerns the seniors have raised about parking and access to the building, and conflicts between programs," Barrett said.

Plans would call for adding 60 parking spaces around the building — that would involve changing Vale Street to one-way and adding angle-in parking along Vale Street and Central Avenue, and paving the area in front of the building.

The city would also add an elevator for seniors, a senior entrance on the Vale Street side and soundproofing for the rooms.

"I think we'd want to get the seniors involved to help design the layouts and also to design all the amenities — the carpeting, the paint and all the things that would make it more appealing," Barrett said.

Councilors are expected to make a decision about the space at the next meeting, Jan. 24. That meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

School officials in September said that expected growth in the number of elementary school students citywide calls for some expansion. They've recommended taking over the entire Birch Street Multi-Purpose Center building as a new, bigger Longley School. 

The Longley School and the Multi-Purpose Center currently share the building. Multi-Purpose Center programs include adult education classes and meeting space for the city's senior citizen groups.

The previous City Council considered purchasing the Knights of Columbus building at 150 East Ave. and making it the new center for seniors' programs.

That could require the city to buy the building from the Knights of Columbus, Barrett said Tuesday. Combined with renovation work on the building, it could push the cost to $600,000.

Barrett said the Knights of Columbus plan would cost the city $106,600 each year.

A third plan called for putting students in modular classrooms. That would cost the city about $80,000 each year, Barrett said. Using the armory would cost the city an additional $30,000 each year.

At least one councilor said he was sold.

"I think it's a good move," Ward 1's John Butler said. "We own the property. We can improve the building and make it senior-friendly, we can put elevators in and handle the parking and turn over the Multi-Purpose Center to the School Department that really needs it."

But Norm Bissonnette, of 36 Reservoir Ave., said it was a bad idea. He urged the schools to make due with the buildings and space they have.

"All we are doing is creating a daycare for people that don't take care for their own children," Bissonnette said. "We give them a golden spoon to put in their mouth and say they don't have to do anything. Well, as taxpayers, we're fed up and that school system had better start looking."


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Lewiston Armory is not the best choice

As much as the Armory appears to be a viable solution, the N of C building is the ideal location for the seniors. Parking at the armory can be a real problem whenever the is a function at the Middle School or at the Armory. Seniors would be left with no place to park within a reasonable distance to the building. On the other hand, the Knights building has its own parking lot. Access to the building would be much easier for seniors.

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I was incorrect in my stating

I was incorrect in my stating Mr. Bissonnette was an elected official, I apologize about that.

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and this is the children's fault how?

Sorry Mr. Bissonnette, you attitude stinks, and it scares me to think you are an elected official.
A child has no choice in the lifestyle a parent chooses to live nor to control the environment they are brought up in.
I would rather a child be in a Pre K. program and have access to structured activities, nutritious meals and learning (on my tax dollar) then to have groups of children start kindergarten without proper preparation. Those are the kids that are going to need added help to get caught up and stay caught up throughout their school years. I have seen it firsthand. The Armory sounds like a great compromise, and if not that I am open to pretty much any alternative, but I am calling you out. Sorry, if you ignore the fact that some children don't get or can't get a great start in their early years to learning. Ignoring it or getting angry about it doesn't make the problem go away.

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Norm Bissonnette

bet he did not espouse that value around election time did he?
Should never tell seniors to go to H..L as they have too many relatives in the area. Sounds like a good plan for the city, but
should the k of c hall be considered for other city needs? In time there probably will be a need for something on that street.


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