Group seeks input into need for Canaan community center

By LIZ SAUCHELLI

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 04-10-2023 6:16 PM

CANAAN — A group of residents studying town buildings is asking for public feedback about establishing a community center in Canaan.

The group was formed earlier this year, in part, to see if there are any town projects that could qualify for New Hampshire’s Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA) Community Center Investment Program.

The authority has been tasked by Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, and the Executive Council with distributing $20 million of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act “to eligible entities to support infrastructure improvements to community spaces across the state,” according to a description of the program on the CDFA’s website. That inspired Canaan residents and town officials to start discussing whether they have any projects that would be a good fit for the program.

“Along with that, there have been several votes that indicated the community was interested in trying to get a community center,” said Thomas Oppel, a member of the study group. “When we heard about this CDFA grant we started to, in the short term, focus on that grant and try to explore what would it involve, what would it take it get an application done.”

The group is asking residents to provide feedback through an online survey via surveymonkey.com/r/Canaancc. Paper copies are also available at the Canaan Town Library, Chappy’s, Canaan Hardware and Supply and Canaan Village Pizza.

“We’re trying to gauge how much support is there for a community center,” Oppel said. “When people say ‘I want a community center.’ What’s the picture in their head?”

He stressed that the group is not making any decisions and that no tax dollars are involved; they are simply doing research. 

The group is studying all town buildings, including the former Log Cabin grocery store, located at 16 Depot St., off Route 4, in Canaan Village. The town took ownership of the store, which is currently vacant, in 2014 as part of a tax lien. The property — which includes one-acre of land, the building and its features, which includes a paved driveway and walk-in storage  shed — is valued at $380,900, according to town property records. 

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Oppel said they are also looking at other town buildings, including the Mascoma Area Senior Center and Canaan Town Library, which are both located on Route 4 in Canaan Village.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.

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