PERU — A potluck lunch and softball game are planned at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 16, at the former elementary school to kick off an effort to develop the site into a community center.
Town officials, the Recreation Committee and an Ad Hoc Committee have been working for months to find ways to use the 80-year-old school. Selectman Tim Holland, a Recreation Committee member, said he can see the property becoming a four-season recreation area with a skate board park, cross-country ski trail and other facilities for townspeople.
The lunch and ball game will be one way to get people together and solicit ideas on uses for the building. Ad Hoc Committee member Nick Waugh said he hopes to create a revolving list of volunteers to share the work of operating a community center.
During the past year or so, the old school has been used by the Recreation Committee as a Haunted House, and for fundraising suppers, an exercise class and storage for the Girl Scout Cookie program, among other things.
Waugh sees the possibility of using it for dances, craft fairs, talent shows, auctions, a car show and other activities that were once a part of the town’s Summerfest. He and others on the committee want to see Summerfest return and held at the site.
When, and if, the local school district decides to lease a part of the building, Waugh and Selectman Jim Pulsifer said the building could still serve as a community center.
Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10 is considering leasing the top floor for all alternative education students in the district, along with the kitchen and gymnasium.
Waugh said he believes the school district and the town could share the kitchen and gymnasium.
The Ad Hoc Committee also made a list of rental costs and rules for use of the building. Rental rates differ according to residents and nonresidents, length of rental, and whether the gym, kitchen or a classroom will be used.
The complete list, as well as the rules, are available through Kathy Hussey, secretary to the selectmen, at the town office. That is also where groups or individuals may sign up to use a portion of the building.
The school was closed several years ago when the former SAD 21 built a new elementary school off Route 108. Residents later approved accepting the school from the district.