Rumford Elementary School at 121 Lincoln Ave., seen Aug. 10, 2023, will become town property once students move to the Mountain Valley Community School being built in neighboring Mexico.. Voters on Monday night accepted the building from Regional School Unit 10 and plans are to use it for child care and community functions. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — Voters at Monday’s annual town meeting accepted an offer by Regional School Unit 10 to transfer ownership of Rumford Elementary School to the town once students move to the Mountain Valley Community School being constructed in neighboring Mexico.

At a Select Board workshop May 22, Economic Development Director George O’Keefe said the town is planning to repurpose the 1956 building for a child care center in the first phase, and a gym, pool and the other recreational facilities typically part of a community center in the second phase.

“This is a way for the town to address a major shortage of child care to the point where we are considered a child care desert, which would help support and improve workforce participation due to lack of child care,” he said. “That is not just a low-to-moderate income population issue, but also upper income families are short on child care, and the community suffers because of it.”

“The conversion would occur in late 2025 or early 2026 as soon as RSU 10 vacates the premises,” he said. “That would not involve any new construction.”

The town is working on a preliminary design as it prepares a grant application to the federal Northern Borders Regional Commission, which will likely include additional funds for preliminary design of the second phase of this project.

Steve Wallace, CEO of the YMCA of Auburn-Lewiston on Turner Street in Auburn, and Pat Boothe and Bud Angst of Woodhull Maine Architects & Builders of Portland also attended the workshop. Wallace talked about utilizing the first floor closest to the parking lot and near the playground. The space for early childhood education would be separated from a program for school-age children, and there would be an after-school program.


Access to the gym, pool and other related facilities would be controlled.

O’Keefe said the town has received an appraisal of about $1.9 million for the school, which will serve as the required match for the federal funding.

“Legally, at this time, based on the appraised value of the property, and the provisions of the program as I understand them right now, we will be able to obtain $3 million in federal funding without having to expend additional town funds through other means,” he said.

“In the end, what is it?” Selectman John Pepin asked. “The Rumford Community Center with a YMCA, a YMCA Center or a hybrid model?”

Town Manager Stacy Carter said, “Because we’re trying to be a combination, we’re not there yet.”

The Select Board will hold a second workshop at 5:30 p.m. June 26 in the Rumford Falls Auditorium, 150 River St.

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: