LEWISTON — The former Longley Elementary School could become an outreach center for homeless youths.

The School Committee voted 8-1 Monday night to study the feasibility of establishing the Longley Homeless Youth Outreach Initiative.

Member Ron Potvin made the motion in response to the city’s proposal to tear down the Longley building and replace it with new housing.

“It’s extraordinary to me that you’re looking at not an empty lot or a condemned building — you’re looking at an active school building,” Potvin told city economic development officials.

An aerial view of Longley Elementary School on February 26, 2018. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file photo

The school district owns the Longley building, but the city owns the property around it.

Potvin’s motion included a reaffirmation of Longley as a school and a commitment to move forward with programs housed there. Those programs offer alternative education and adult education classes.


“We’ve invested much time and energy and vision to move these programs forward,” he said.

According to the motion, Lewiston Public Schools administration will evaluate the building’s needs and the committee will decide next year whether to include repairs in the district’s Capital Improvement Plan.

Renovations likely would cost $3 million to $4 million, member Bruce Damon said, adding that it would cost $25 million to $30 million to replace the building.

“Razing it would not be in the best interest of taxpayers,” Damon said.

Potvin’s motion was amended by Kiernan Majerus-Collins to include the establishment of a subcommittee to study the feasibility and bring a plan to the full committee.

“The concept is phenomenal,” Majerus-Collins said. “I hope we can do it.”


Potvin said he recently toured the building and was “amazed at what we have there.”

The building, originally a community center, has showers, kitchens and a gymnasium, he said.

He said the youth outreach center would not supplant any services in the city but could be another pathway for teens who need a place to call home.

It could offer mental health and substance abuse counseling and on-site schooling, he said, adding that the details should be left to school administration.

“Homelessness is a priority,” he said. “We need to have that outreach. I believe our outreach needs a boost.”

Superintendent Todd Finn said he sees an “imminent need for the 149 students who will not go home tonight.”

He said these students live in tents and “need a place to call home. I see these kids on Fridays. I pick up doughnuts and we sit around and talk. This is the work that the School Committee should be doing.”

Member Tanya Whitlow voted against the motion. She said she liked the idea but wanted to see building inspection reports and have more discussion before voting.

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