Child Care of the Berkshires seeks long-term lease at Haskins School
NORTH ADAMS — Though the former Haskins School building on State Street has been its home for more than 30 years, Child Care of the Berkshires has never had a long-term lease agreement.
The city and nonprofit will look to change that by signing a 25-year agreement next week.
"We really are committed to this building and making it a very a high-quality space for children," said Anne Nemetz-Carlson, executive director of Child Care of the Berkshires.
The nonprofit, which provides care to more than 125 children locally every year, requires full site control to qualify for federal and state grants that would pay for significant building upgrades, according to a letter written by Mayor Richard Alcombright to the City Council. Although it has several improvements to the building over the years, the nonprofit has traditionally entered into five-year leases with the city.
The nonprofit now hopes to win funding to improve the building's handicap accessibility, install an elevator, improve electricity service, install new windows and more.
"This lease along with the possible receipt of the USDA grant would be a most positive outcome for the families and children in the city and greater region," Alcombright wrote.
More than 90 percent of the children enrolled in Child Care of the Berkshires' programs live in poverty, and about one-third are victims of abuse and neglect, according to the nonprofit.
Alcombright will propose the city enter a 25-year lease agreement with the nonprofit at Tuesday's city council meeting.
Under previous agreements, Child Care of the Berkshires took on responsibilities for day-to-day maintenance of the building while the city tackled larger capital needs. With the new lease, the nonprofit would expand its role to include all building maintenance.
"We'd like to be here another 25 years and we'd really like to keep the building in the best shape it can be," Nemetz-Carlson said.
For the first time, the newly drafted lease includes rent payments, beginning in year six of the deal, for $1,100 per month with increases every five years.
The city issued a Request for Proposals for a long-term tenant, as required by state law, and Child Care of the Berkshires was the only respondent, Alcombright said.
"I am very pleased that CCB under this agreement will continue to provide services in this wonderful building for minimally the next 25 years," Alcombright said.
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