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September 26, 2013

Hastings eyeing new use for old school

HASTINGS — Hastings Borough Council is looking to supplant municipal operations into the old Cambria Heights Middle School building.

With help from a $2.2 million grant, for which it recently applied through USDA, elderly citizens could also be calling the building home.

“We got the building from the school district (in 2001) and it’s kind of been sitting idle for quite some time, with different thoughts and ideas going through our heads with what to do with it,” said Chris Gibbons, council president.

Gibbons said Councilman Joseph Taranto suggested they use the space as an apartment complex for seniors.

“He pretty much did all the legwork in getting the design and blueprints drafted for it,” he said, adding that it’s a worthy option for the borough.

“We really don’t have any housing for the elderly in Hastings.”

Gibbons said total cost for the project will run $2.5 million. Aside from apartment units, Taranto’s design includes a new borough office, police department office and a community room that can be rented out for meetings, birthday parties and more.

Green upgrades, including a geothermal energy system, roof improvements and energy-efficient windows are also in the plans.

“(Taranto) contacted numerous lending facilities and institutions, trying to get funding for this,” he said.

The council ended up in the hands of Cambria County grant facilitator John Dubnansky, who submitted the council’s multimillion dollar grant application this week. Dubnansky said the USDA funds will be sized according to the income levels of the Hastings area, with the remainder coming in as a low-interest loan.

Dubnansky told council they are now in an approval “waiting game”.

“It will depend on how that project will rank against other projects in the commonwealth,” he said, adding that the borough’s fund allotments for the 2013 and 2014 fiscal years will also be taken into account.

Justin Dennis covers Hastings for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/JustinDennis.

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