Salvation Army building rises

Published 5:39 pm Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Salvation Army’s community service building has begun to take shape on Bank Street. The building will host basketball courts, classrooms and more.

After a long wait, the Salvation Army’s new community center finally is rising from the ground along Bank Street.

The organization first announced plans for the building in 2009 and thought construction could begin as early as March 2010. But a variety of delays ensued, and the building has failed to get off the ground until now.

Salvation Army board member Bobby Harrell says the building now is expected to be completed by the end of May and opened by mid-summer.

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“It will be a midsummer night’s dream,” Harrell said, channeling Shakespeare. “It goes pretty fast now. I got pictures taken Monday of nothing but the pad, and (Friday) the steel’s up. Next week, the skin goes on.”

The 22,400-square-foot building will be constructed by CPG Construction, which submitted the winning bid at $1.2 million. The new building is directly beside the organization’s headquarters at 400 Bank St.

The community center is planned to have basketball courts, a computer room, three classrooms and a wellness center. The Salvation Army envisions it as a place for community programs, after-school resources and programs to promote physical and spiritual health.

About 9,400 people within one mile of the proposed building live in poverty, and many are unable to get to the East Suffolk Community Center, according to the Salvation Army’s research. Of those, about 2,900 are children and 1,300 are senior citizens.

Though most of the funds for the building have been raised, the process continues with smaller donations, Harrell said.

“We do have a program where they’re selling bricks for the sidewalk to help raise money for some of the extra stuff we need,” Harrell said.

He said the building will be an important benefit to the community.

“If you can save a few kids, you break the poverty cycle,” he said.

For more information on the building or the Salvation Army’s services, call 539-5201.