Sterling House Community Center to receive $1.2 Million grant For Elevator Project

Sterling House Community Center to receive $1.2 Million grant For Elevator Project!!

The Board of Directors of Sterling House Community Center in Stratford has announced that the State Bond Commission has approved a grant for $1.2 million for the center's Elevator and Facility Enhancement Project. The project was advanced by Governor Dannel P. Malloy to the State Bond Commission Agenda which was ...passed on Friday, March 28th in Hartford. Sterling House Board Chairman, James Millward, commented "We are most grateful to the Governor, all of our local State legislators, our Mayor and the hundreds of members of Sterling House who supported this project which will finally become a reality after being in our plans since 2002". Rep. Laura Hoydick (R-120), Rep. Larry Miller (R-122), Sen. Kevin Kelly (R-21), Rep. Terry Backer (D-121) and Sen. Andres Ayala, Jr. (D-23) along with Stratford Mayor John Harkins wrote to the Governor last October requesting the funds for the project.

A project long time coming, it has been part of long term plans for the center for over 12 years. In 2002 a "Long Range Facility Utilization & Development Plan" was completed for Sterling House which outlined the need for an elevator in order to fulfill the center's goals and objectives of its Handicap Accessibility Plan. In 2009 Sterling House completed its "Strategic Plan" which also recommended the construction of a five stop elevator for the center. In 2011 the Town of Stratford approved funds for Sterling House to complete a feasibility study and develop budgeting and architectural documents for the center's "Elevator and Facility Enhancement" Project. "This project is so critical in order for Sterling House to effectively continue to carry out its mission and meet the social, educational and recreational needs of over 13,000 children, teenagers and adults which we service yearly" said Lou Perno, Executive Director at Sterling House.

The project will include an elevator, an inside stairwell egress, elimination of an outside fire escape and renovation of the main office and reception area. The elevator will allow individuals, including all those who are physically challenged, to utilize the center and its programs to the fullest. In 2004, Sterling House received CDBG funds to renovate the basement of the center to more efficiently house the Sterling House Food Pantry, a program which began in 1992. The new space has proved to be a wonderful asset for a program which has grown to become the Sterling House Resource Connection Program, a comprehensive basic needs assistance program which in 2013 provided over 8,700 individuals with basic needs assistance in the form of food, diapers, pet food, school supplies, clothing, holiday gifts, Thanksgiving meals and information and referral. The project will greatly impact this program in the basement with the only access now being a narrow and lengthy stairwell not accessible to the elderly and physically challenged populations who use the program. Without an elevator at Sterling House, the physically challenged population also do not have access to its 2nd and 3rd floor levels where classes, workshops, support groups and other programs are held. "In our Day Camp, we accommodate the special needs population along with children in wheel chairs. These children have to be literally carried to the 2nd and 3rd floors to participate in activities", comments Bob Wargo, Co-Camp Director of Sterling House.

"We are investing in Sterling House because we want to ensure this cultural landmark is used as much in the future as it has been for the last 80 years," said Governor Dannel P. Malloy. Sterling House Community Center has been serving Greater Bridgeport for 82 years out of a Romanesque mansion built in 1886. Captain John Sterling owned the land where his son John built the Sterling Home in 1886 for his mom and sister Catherine and Cordelia. Cordelia Sterling donated the Sterling Homestead, House and Park, in memory of her father, to the people of Stratford and neighboring areas. She died in 1931 and according to her wishes and will Sterling House has been utilized as a community center since 1932.

The Romanesque Mansion which houses Sterling House Community Center was once the homestead of the Sterling family, one of Stratford's oldest and wealthiest families. The stately house was designed by architect Bruce Price of New York, who also designed Osborne Hall and Welch Hall at Yale University. The homesteads lawns and gardens were originally planned by Frederick Law Olmsted who was the landscape architect of New York's Central Park. Sterling House is included in the National Registry of Historic District.

Sterling House services all ages from the young to senior adults, offering over 35 different programs yearly providing affordable Child Development Services, Positive Youth Development Services, Adult Programs and Community Services. The center operates positive development, assistance and prevention programs for children, teenagers and adults which meet the social, intellectual, physical, emotional and artistic needs of individuals from Stratford, Greater Bridgeport, Milford and Shelton. The center utilizes over 350 volunteers.

The Sterling House Elevator and Facility Enhancement Project is one which is being supported by all aspects of our community. "This is absolutely an exciting time for Sterling House and our entire Stratford and beyond community. We are deeply grateful for everyone's support; our Board, our Association, staff, our legislators, our mayor and the Town of Stratford, members of Sterling House and the thousands of people we touch through all of our programs" said Lou Perno.


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