BANGOR, Maine — Leaders at the Hammond Street Senior Center, which served roughly 500 active members age 55 and older, have voted not to reopen, Executive Director Kathy Bernier said in a Monday afternoon email to members.
“The Hammond Street Senior Center Board of Directors met on April 28, 2016, to evaluate and discuss the fundraising progress that has been made over the past few months since the Center’s closing,” Bernier states in the email. “Though many grants have been submitted and a few have been received, it is the unanimous decision of the Board to not pursue a further location for [Hammond Street Senior Center]. The necessary funding in spite of the received grants and those still pending acceptance is simply not adequate to provide the necessary financing.”
It was announced in November, just days after the senior center shut down operations to reduce costs, that the historic structure at 2 Hammond St. had been sold, and at that point Bernier was hopeful that enough money would be left over after paying bills to reopen at another location.
The Hammond Street Senior Center, located in the old Merrill Bank building, was founded in 1999 by John and Elaine Couri of Ridgefield, Connecticut, who had Bangor ties and saw a need for a place seniors could gather and socialize.
The Couris operated the senior gathering place through their charitable foundation, Couri Foundation, investing more than $3 million to improve the facility that paid all the bills until 2011, when the couple decided to gift the building to members and issued their last check for $200,000, Bernier said.
At the end of 2013, the Couris transferred ownership of the property and all of its assets to Hammond Street Senior Center Inc., a newly established and locally controlled nonprofit. That led center operators to add a membership fee, ask for donations from communities where their members live and look for grant funds.
Tax records show the center’s income fell dramatically between 2011 and 2013 — the latest year available — plunging 29 percent from $504,964 to $360,039. During that time period, charitable contributions fell 41 percent from $395,004 to $233,525.
The senior center provided a wide range of services to individuals 55 and over, including continuing education, fitness, socialization, arts and crafts and special events, according to center officials.
“This decision was made with deep regret and sincere wishes that the outcome would have been otherwise,” Bernier said. “Many thanks were expressed to our past supporters, sponsors, municipalities and donors and especially to our members who have had their lives touched in so many ways over the past 16 years.
“The remaining assets of [Hammond Street Senior Center] will be distributed to local nonprofits in the Greater Bangor Area that have a senior interest and focus,” she said.