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Youth Director Sonia DiSanti and President Joseph Johnson sign a lease with the town to use Cheshire School. Selectwoman Carol Francesconi spoke on behalf of the board, which is expected to vote to accept the lease at a later date.

Youth Center Inc. Moving to Former Cheshire School

By Jack Guerino
iBerkshires Staff
02:31AM / Wednesday, April 17, 2019
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Four years ago, Youth Center Inc. said 'every inch' of the East Street Community Center was being used. The center had hoped to move into the Memorial Building.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Youth Center Inc. is moving from Adams to the former Cheshire School. 
 
Members of the Youth Center attended an informal selectmen's meeting Tuesday to sign a lease agreement for eight classrooms in the new section of the former elementary school.
 
Director Sonia DiSanti said the Youth Center has outgrown its East Street location in Adams and is excited to be able to expand and add preschool programming. 
 
"We have been wanting to expand for years ... there is more space so we can take more kids if there is a need," she said. "It is nice that the town of Adams has been able to help us out but I think that we just outgrew the building."
 
The Youth Center services children in North Berkshire County and currently resides in the town of Adams' Community Center at 20 East St., a former nun dormitory built sometime in the 1920s or 1940s. The structure needs a significant amount of work and the town began making plans to sell the building back in 2013. 
 
It once housed the Council on Aging, which relocated to the Adams Visitors Center several years ago, and the Youth Center had expected to move to the former middle school building on Columbia Street. But the with the future of  that building also uncertain, Youth Center officials decided it was time to make a move. 
 
"It is very advantageous for Cheshire and we are very pleased to have them here in our town," Chairwoman Carol Francesconi said. "I think it is a plus for the youth ... I think it is a great step forward for our town."
 
Cheshire has been trying to lease out the former elementary school that closed in 2016. Currently the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District central office is housed in the building as well as an exercise center.
 
Youth Center President Joseph Johnson said the school is the perfect fit and with different classrooms, it will be easier for staff to keep different groups of kids organized. He said there will also be an opportunity to open up to other communities outside of Northern Berkshire County.  
 
"We looked at several different buildings this one just happened to be a great," he said. "We will be able to expand our services and offer more to them."
 
Johnson said he also sees opportunity with the school's grounds and its proximity to the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail and Appalachian Trail. 
 
"There is a lot to do on a nice day," he said. 
 
Johnson added that they will work with the school district so there is a solid transportation plan between the schools and the Youth Center.
 
DiSanti said although they are leaving Adams, they still plan to partner with the town and will continue to hold a summer program in Adams.
 
The lease will be for 10 years and renegotiable every four years. DiSanti said they were just responsible for paying utilities on East Street. In Cheshire, they have a flat lease of $1,500 that will be more consistent.
 
The Selectmen were unable to officially vote on the lease because there was not a quorum. Selectman Robert Ciskowski, the only other member of the board at this time, could not attend the meeting.
 
The Selectmen will officially vote at a later meeting.
 
DiSanti said they plan to open at the beginning of the next school year. 
 
"This is a big step," she said. "It is very exciting."

Tags: cheshire school,   youth center,   

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