2017-08-03 / Front Page

Salvation Army plans expansion

By Grant McPherson
Staff Writer


The Salvation Army hopes to begin an extensive renovation project to their Old Orchard Beach campus beginning this fall. Plans include an extenstion to its current gymnasium and chapel building, 60 new parking spaces and significant landscaping work. (Grant McPherson photo) The Salvation Army hopes to begin an extensive renovation project to their Old Orchard Beach campus beginning this fall. Plans include an extenstion to its current gymnasium and chapel building, 60 new parking spaces and significant landscaping work. (Grant McPherson photo) Old Orchard Beach – The Salvation Army plans to make significant additions to its facilities along Church Street and Union Avenue.

Additions include 12,000-square-feet of community space, meeting rooms, a gymnasium expansion, function areas, dining rooms, and 60 new parking spaces. The existing chapel will be expanded and an officer’s house on Union Avenue will be demolished to make room for parking. A public hearing will be held 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 10 at Old Orchard Beach Town Hall for community members to ask questions and submit comments about the project.

Maj. Bryan Smith, corps commanding officer of the Salvation Army, said the organization decided to expand its facilities due to the growing size and attendance of the annual camp meetings. Salvation Army Camp Meetings are typically the last week in July and host guest speakers and musical events aimed for families in the community. This year’s camp meeting runs from Saturday, July 29 to Friday, Aug. 4 and like all years is open to the public. Between 800 and 1,300 people attend annually.


The Salvation Army relocated to Old Orchard Beach from Saco in 1959 to make room for growing attendance at its annual Camp Meeting, held the last week in July every year. Between 800 and 1,300 people regularly attend from as far away as Kentucky and Pennsylvania. This year’s meeting runs from Saturday, July 29 to Friday, Aug. 4 and features guests Susan McMillan, territorial commander for Canada and Bermuda, and the Canadian Staff Band. (Grant McPherson photo) The Salvation Army relocated to Old Orchard Beach from Saco in 1959 to make room for growing attendance at its annual Camp Meeting, held the last week in July every year. Between 800 and 1,300 people regularly attend from as far away as Kentucky and Pennsylvania. This year’s meeting runs from Saturday, July 29 to Friday, Aug. 4 and features guests Susan McMillan, territorial commander for Canada and Bermuda, and the Canadian Staff Band. (Grant McPherson photo) The Salvation Army has hosted camp meetings in Old Orchard Beach since 1885 and moved to its current location from Saco in 1959.


Maj. Bryan Smith, who oversees the army’s work in Old Orchard Beach, Saco, Biddeford, Dayton and Arundel, hopes the latest expansions will help The Salvation Army continue and grow their current programming. The Salvation Army holds several community programs throughout the week including Sunday worship services and bible studies, free community lunches on Tuesdays and Fridays and brass band rehearsals on Thursdays. (Grant McPherson photo) Maj. Bryan Smith, who oversees the army’s work in Old Orchard Beach, Saco, Biddeford, Dayton and Arundel, hopes the latest expansions will help The Salvation Army continue and grow their current programming. The Salvation Army holds several community programs throughout the week including Sunday worship services and bible studies, free community lunches on Tuesdays and Fridays and brass band rehearsals on Thursdays. (Grant McPherson photo) “We want to reach out more extensively and provide added programs that we don’t currently have because of space,” Smith said.

Additional programs being considered include English as a second language classes or computer labs for seniors and youth, but Smith said an advisory board is still determining needs of the community. Salvation Army officials would also like to expand the social service food program, which offers free lunch on Tuesdays and Fridays to those in need.


The Salvation Army is an international organization is an evangelical sect of the universal Christian church. Its mission is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and serve those in need without discrimination. Nearly 30 million Americans in 5,000 communities receive assistance from the Salvation Army’s social service programs. (Grant McPherson photo) The Salvation Army is an international organization is an evangelical sect of the universal Christian church. Its mission is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and serve those in need without discrimination. Nearly 30 million Americans in 5,000 communities receive assistance from the Salvation Army’s social service programs. (Grant McPherson photo) “Sometimes we’re directing people to other resources as they come in, but we try to help with what we can,” Smith said.

New meeting spaces and basketball courts may be available for the public or outside groups to use. Smith said he is waiting for the Aug. 10 meeting to gain more insight into what the community may want. He hopes the town will be supportive and feels the Salvation Army has a good record of assisting people in Old Orchard Beach.

“I hope expanded facilities serve people in the area better,” he said.

Old Orchard Beach Town Planner Jeffrey Hinderliter said the Salvation Army has been organized and easy to work with. The Salvation Army submitted its initial documentation for expansion this past spring, but Hinderliter said officials have been preparing since well before then.

“When you add 12,000-square-feet and parking areas in a neighborhood this densely developed with little land area to work with, it’s a pretty significant expansion,” he said.

At one time the Salvation Army proposed the relocation of Church Street, but decided against it due to cost and time restrictions.

Hinderliter said the Salvation Army has purchased residential units directly adjacent to the existing property since at least the beginning of 2016. The more land the Salvation Army can acquire the fewer property lines are next to it and less setback guidelines it has to worry about. The group also has detailed plans for vegetation and landscaping that surrounds the proposed new buildings. Hinderliter said this shows their investment and dedication to the project. The estimated total cost is $4,350,000.

“They’re in town for a long term commitment,” he said.

After the public hearing the project will go before the planning board for review. Salvation Army officials hope to begin foundation work this fall. Hinderliter said he has received positive feedback about the project so far, but anyone who objects to it will have the opportunity to do so at the public hearing. Because the Salvation Army has purchased many of the properties around it, Hinderliter said only two or three residences are directly adjacent to the proposed development. Because the town of Old Orchard Beach is a small community, Hinderliter imagines many people will want to voice their opinion on the expansion.

“I expect we will have people beyond abutters come to the public hearing,” he said.

Smith said Salvation Army officials feel much trust and support from the community, which is why they want to expand their space and programming.

“We’ve done well within our existing confines,” he said. “We welcome the opportunity to have larger facilities to continue to serve people.”

Contact Staff Writer Grant McPherson at news@inthecourier.com

FMI

A public hearing on an expansion by the Salvation Army will be held 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 10 at Old Orchard Beach Town Hall.

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