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Community Center gets grant for kitchen

Building’s uses to expand, once construction is completed

PETERBOROUGH — Construction should get underway this summer on a kitchen at the Peterborough Community Center on Elm Street, after town officials announced this week that a recent $27,503 grant will provide the final funding needed for the $140,000 project.

Select Board Chair Barbara Miller said the grant came from the Partridge Foundation, an Ohio-based charity with connections to a Dublin resident who is a supporter of the Community Center and the Cornucopia Project, which has a community garden at the center. The donation, along with money contributed by more than 120 Peterborough residents and raised through sales of a “Tastes of Peterborough” cookbook, brought the town’s fundraising effort to $70,000, enabling the town to fulfill its matching requirement for a $70,000 New Hampshire Charitable Trust grant.

“Many people gave small donations, less than $100,” Miller said on Tuesday.

She said six businesses, seven civic organizations, and five foundations, including the Daniels Foundation and the Isabelle Miller Fund, also made significant donations.

“A lot of people really cared about this project,” Miller said.

Jeff King, the town’s recreation director, said Torphy Construction of Peterborough has been chosen to do the kitchen installation, in a 520-square-foot room on the Elm Street side of the center, which is in the former National Guard armory. The kitchen will have commercial grade equipment, some of it bought secondhand from a local family that was renovating a large kitchen and some purchased at auctions.

“It was all in great shape, almost new,” King said on Tuesday. “We have a stove, dishwasher, refrigerator. They are all sitting in the room, ready to go.”

King said the kitchen will have pass-throughs both to a dining room next to the kitchen and to the large gymnasium that fills the back of the building.

“It will really increase the marketability for the building,” King said. “It’s a large hall; we’re permitted for up to 300 people. It’s easy to find, has good parking and having the kitchen will really open up a lot of opportunities. It would be a great venue for a miniconference. ”

King said the Recreation Department is in the process of adding WiFi capacity at the building, which will also increase options for rentals.

When the town took ownership of the former Armory several years ago, town officials pledged to run it without drawing on taxpayer support. The Recreation Department has been charged with management of the building and King said recreation program fees and rental rates cover ongoing costs.

“As of Sept. 1, we’ll be charging $35 per hour per room,” King said. “Sometimes people just want to use the gym. Sometimes they want the gym and dining room. Right now we have a wedding vow renewal scheduled. We just did a yoga instructor conference.”

King said the Recreation Department is eager to have groups use the building.

“We do need to charge them,” he said. “That’s the arrangement that was made. We even charge the Cub Scouts, and I’m the Cubmaster.”

He said when Recreation Department events use the building, the fees are higher than they would be for outdoor programs.

King said he is hoping to offer cooking classes in the kitchen as part of the Recreation Department’s programming.

“I’d love to see some intergenerational classes, with grandmas teaching the young kids how to cook,” he said.

Miller said she hopes the kitchen could be ready for use this fall, if construction goes smoothly.

“You just don’t know what you’ll find behind those old walls,” she said.

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