BELMONT – The United States Department of Agriculture – Rural Development (USDA) recently obligated a $391,000 congressionally directed spending request made by Senator Jeanne Shaheen for the Gale School Redevelopment Project in Belmont. USDA also obligated a $200,000 Community Facilities Loan for the project at the same time.
This federal funding brings Lakes Region Community Developers (LRCD) one step closer to starting construction on this highly anticipated project, which has been delayed due to cost increases. Project cost estimates increased significantly since 2020, resulting in the need for LRCD to seek more funding than originally anticipated.
“The Gale School is a historical treasure in New Hampshire, and I was proud to help secure funding that will enable the school to continue serving Belmont with a new childcare and community resource center,” said Senator Shaheen. “Once completed, this new facility will help alleviate the childcare accessibility challenges facing the surrounding community.”
“We are grateful to Senator Shaheen for her advocacy to ensure funding for the Gale School was included in the FY23 federal budget,” said Carmen Lorentz, LRCD Executive Director. “This funding is a big boost at a critical time.”
The Gale School was built in 1894, and was used by the Belmont school district until the mid-1980s. The building has been mostly vacant since then, and years of neglect have taken their toll. The Gale School was named to the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places in 2018, and was selected as one of New Hampshire’s Seven to Save in 2017.
In July 2020, the building was successfully moved by the local Save Our Gale School Committee (SOGS) to a new location at 60 Concord Street in Belmont Village. LRCD agreed to partner with SOGS to redevelop the building.
LRCD is partnering with the Boys & Girls Club of Central New Hampshire and Lakes Region Community Services to raise the necessary funds for renovations. The first floor of the building will house a child care center operated by the Boys & Girls Club. On the second floor, Lakes Region Community Services will provide a range of programming and support services to benefit the community.
To date, the partners have raised $2,574,300. Additional grant applications are in process this fall. Once all the funding for the renovations is assembled, SOGS will donate the land and building to LRCD and construction can begin. LRCD is hopeful construction will get underway in 2024.