The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 3, 2012

Northumberland officials working to 'kickstart' building renovations

By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item

— NORTHUMBERLAND — Borough officials have come up with a way to fund the renovation of the stage/gymnasium at the Second Street Community Center — by using an established Internet fundraising platform called kickstarter.com.

Kickstarter.com funds creative projects, and the borough’s stage renovation project at the Second Street Community Center proposal was accepted by the organization and placed on the website’s homepage on Oct. 31.

The total estimate for the project is $400,000.

“We have already raised some of the funds, so we set a goal of $325,000,” said Ann August, a borough employee, who submitted the application.  

“The trouble is, we now have until Dec. 15 to meet that funding goal,” she added.

The agreement called for a 45-day window to raise funds, using kickstarter.com.

Once a project is on the kickstarter.com home page, individuals can pledge funds toward the project. But it’s an all-or-nothing deal; if, at the end of the prescribed time on the site, the goal is not met, the project gets nothing.

Right now, about $485 has been pledged.

“That leaves us with quite a challenge,” August said Thursday.

The project has long been on the drawing boards, she explained. “I’ve looked for grant money from several sources, applied for them, but we’ve been denied. When I heard about kickstarter.com, it seemed like a good method of getting the word out and telling our story.”

The borough purchased the former Second Street Elementary School in August 2000.

A large number of the long-time residents attended this school from 1921 to 2000 and its closing generated a great deal of controversy in the community.

Since buying the school, the borough has made significant progress in converting it to a community center.  

Renovations have been funded from community members, community foundations and state grants.

Since 2000, for example, the community center has:

- Received a new roof, windows and doors,

- Converted four classrooms into municipal and police offices,

- Taken multiple classrooms and created a new community room

- Built a new playground and outdoor basketball court

But the borough has had no large indoor space for events, August said, “and the gymnasium/stage area is intended as that place; for everything from basketball pick-up games and tournaments to stage productions by the local theater group to concerts and dances.”

Funding is needed to finish the gymnasium/stage with the following work to be completed: construction plans, new insulated walls and ceiling, two new restrooms, a sound system and Internet connections, electrical, plumbing, and lighting.  

The gym floor is concrete and will need to be cleaned, painted (basketball court lines) and sealed. Architect recommendations call for a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

All funds will be use for renovations to the community center, August said. “We will be maintaining the original look of the school as much as possible.”

Should the funding goal be reached, Memory Lane, a local oldies band, has agreed to donate a concert after the ribbon-cutting ceremony.