WATERVILLE — The Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter will be a lot closer to building a $2.7 million shelter if city councilors on Wednesday vote to give $250,000 to the effort.

The money would come from the William T. Haines Charitable Trust, a fund established in the 1920s to help needy women and children. The city administers the fund.

The City Council at 7 p.m. Wednesday will decide whether to petition the probate court to allow the transfer of $250,000 from the fund to build a wing at the future shelter for women and children.

Shelter officials hope to build a 40-bed, 7,620-square-foot shelter on Colby Circle in the coming months. The current 18-bed shelter on Ticonic Street is too small and inadequate for the needs of the homeless, according to shelter officials.

Douglas Cutchin, chairman of the shelter campaign, said fundraising in the spring and early summer went very well but has slowed this fall, and this gift would give it a big boost. So far, the campaign has raised about $1.9 million of the needed $2.7 million, he said.

Officials had planned to start building a shelter late this year but may delay that until about April, he said.

“There is an outside chance we might break ground in late November, early December, but we’ve got a lot of ground to cover,” he said.

The idea of transferring $250,000 from the Haines Trust came from City Manager Michael Roy.

Roy said Haines, Maine’s governor from 1913 to 1915, was an influential and important figure in the city’s early history. He died in 1919, and his wife died a few years later. Their will stipulated that the city receive a $100,000 charitable trust, the income of which was to be used annually for the relief of “such poor, destitute and unfortunate women and children as are not paupers, but are in need of financial assistance.”

Roy said that the gift was untouched for many years and has grown to nearly $550,000.

The city formed an investment committee in the 1990s and has adopted an ordinance to clarify how the money is to be administered. In 2010-11, the city spent $5,393 from the fund, while the annual earnings for that period were $7,027, according to Roy.

Roy said he believes the proposal to transfer $250,000 complies with the intent of the Haines will. If the council approves the transfer, the shelter will name the women and children’s wing the William T. Haines wing, he said.

The city has been using the trust money to help mostly women and children who do not qualify for general assistance, Roy said.

“In today’s times, we can’t discriminate based on gender; so the city has done what it had to do to follow the intent of his will but follow federal law, too,” he said.

Roy said the city’s attorney recommended going to a probate judge to make sure a transfer of money is appropriate in this instance. The city does not know who the Haines heirs are, he said.

“We want people to know this is our intent, and anyone who has an objection can step forward,” Roy said.

The Ticonic Street homeless shelter has become so crowded that an overflow shelter was opened last winter in the basement of First Baptist Church to accommodate those turned away because space was unavailable.

That 30-bed overflow shelter at the corner of Park and Elm streets closed April 15 but is scheduled to re-open Nov. 1, according to Arlene Tully, pastor of the Pleasant Street United Methodist Church. Tully is a member of the Waterville Area Homeless Action Group, which helped Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter officials open the overflow shelter. She also volunteers there.

In other matters Wednesday, councilors expect to consider accepting $100,000 from Colby College to help build a multipurpose trail at Quarry Road Recreation Area, with the stipulation that the city front that amount now. Colby would repay the city in three installments over the next three years. The council also will consider accepting $385,000 from the Harold Alfond Foundation to buy snow-making equipment for the recreation area.

The council will consider authorizing a final $4,941 payment to Nitram Excavation for the city’s snow dump construction. The dump was built off College Avenue at a final cost of $251,000.

The council also will consider leasing part of the main terminal building at Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport to Airlink, LLCs. The company, which offers charter flights and flight instruction, has used the terminal rent-free for a number of years, according to Roy. The city proposed — and Airlink officials agreed — to a fee of $7.25 per square foot of classroom and office space that Airlink now uses.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

 


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