FREEPORT, Maine – The Members of Wardtown Mobile Home Cooperative have something new to look forward to once social distancing regulations relax – a newly renovated space for them to gather.
Earlier this year, Bill Hodgkins, treasurer of Wardtown’s Board of Directors, drove down to northern Massachusetts to pick up a construction trailer that the community acquired for $1,300.
With some sweat equity, new windows, doors, flooring, paint, and many volunteer hours from a dozen Members of the community, the building has been transformed into a beautiful, communal space that features a kitchen, a bathroom, an office and a spacious wide open area that can accommodate up to 40 people at a time.
“The new community center at Wardtown is a great example of Board vision, ingenuity, and their collective on-going commitment to creating a stronger ROC community,” said Julian Rowand, a Cooperative Development Specialist with the Cooperative Development Institute, the Certified Technical Assistance Provider who works with Wardtown.
The new community center, which is 12 feet wide by 60 feet long, replaces a previous structure that was 8×28. Hodgkins noted how cramped the previous space was, adding that two-thirds of the new community building is wide open space.
“We’re looking forward to hosting monthly first-Friday dinners when the virus settles,” said Hodgkins, who also added that there is interest to start a quilting group in the community as well as making the space available for the community to rent for birthday parties or other small private events.
The community center also features a new heating system with a generator and backup propane heater.
“In a fairly rural area here, we tend to lose power quite a bit in the park in the winter. We put a backup generator and backup heat in the community center, so in the event we have an extended time of power outage we can feed people, offer warmth, and provide a place for community members to seek refuge from the storm,” he said.
The amazing transformation of the community center would not have been possible without the volunteer efforts from Chuck Beals, Sam and Kathy Heseltine, Patty Eastman, Mike Guimond, Matt Cone, Darrell and Deanna Coro, and Bill and Carol Hodgkins.
There is still one project left to complete – in the coming weeks, the Hodgkins’ grandson Devon is helping some community members build a deck for the community center as part of his work with the local job corps.