In News & Events, Press Releases

I write now to provide an update about all the activities that have occurred related to the Thorne Building since I last wrote you in late July.

The Thorne Building Community Center(TBCC) has been legally established as a 501c3 (not for profit) entity.

Oakleigh Thorne continues to do all that needs to be done to resolve “the reverter issue.” This issue relates to the provision made by the Thorne family at the time that they gave the Thorne Building to the Village that the building would revert or return to the Thorne family if it ever were used for purposes that were not educational.

John Waite and his colleague Shannon Brown of JAWaite Associates in Albany conferred with Carole Martin(our consultant) and with several members of the Planning Committee in the past three months about the following issues: 

  • To obtain cost estimates to restore the exterior of the building
  • To obtain cost estimates to renovate the interior of the building
  • To obtain cost estimates related to the mechanical operations within the building (water, heat, light, hvac, ADA, etc.)
  • To take first steps towards the creation of a master plan for the property by discussing matters such as traffic circulation(exits and entrances); parking areas; use of the Bandshell; and landscaping. They are now taking additional steps to complete such a plan.

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On October 19, the Planning Committee met to review a report drafted by Carole Martin about the programs that the community are most keen to see implemented in the Thorne Building. An executive summary at the start of the report listed these key findings as follows:

National arts and culture trends indicate that:

A nonprofit business model is the most sustainable, due in part to the increased opportunity for diversified funding sources and the expanded opportunities for volunteer support and engagement.

Diversification of offerings exponentially increases the likelihood of financial sustainability.

Digital education and literacy are central elements to building inclusive communities, increasing workforce readiness and allowing seniors to age in place.

Community interest in and support for the Thorne Building transformation is strong; the majority believe a community arts, culture, digital literacy and culinary “hub” is needed and if designed well, will play a vital role in a thriving downtown and potentially attracting young families to the community. 

The Thorne Building’s future offerings have no direct marketplace competitors—it will fill gaps for desired services that are unavailable in the community.

Regardless of the business model, the future of the Thorne Building hinges on keen fiscal and program management, stellar community relations and talented, dedicated staff.

Future direction is heavily reliant on transferring ownership with clear title from the municipality to the recently established 501c3. 

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When all community input was analyzed, the following emerged as areas of significant commonality:

  • Serve all ages
  • Focus on cultural activities, including music performances, films, art classes, dance classes, live theater performances, writer/artist work space and gallery, exhibition space for showing work of local artists.
  • Ensure adequate space for: “hang out” space where community can informally interact; speeches, lectures and debates
  • Culinary classes and event-related food creation/preparation
  • Dedicated space to: after school tutoring; co-working space; technology space with equipment provided; weddings, reunions—family gathering space
  • Meeting space for use by the public
  • Information hub for community activities.

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After much robust discussion, the Planning Committee arrived at the following recommendations:

  • In every instance, the goal is to expand, not duplicate, existing services and offerings in northeast Dutchess County, maintaining vigilance to be sure Village residents have routine access to programming and services. Collaborations with existing program and service providers is a critical component to success. So is avoiding competing with business interests.
  • A priority is to serve as a magnet to downtown Millbrook and to offer programs at times and in ways that encourage attendees to shop, eat, and generally experience downtown.
  • Programs will be designed with the understanding that community needs and desires will change over time. Creating a culture of tracking trends and community needs is essential to ongoing success.
  • A building endowment is a priority from the beginning. A restored building for which resources don’t exist for ongoing upkeep is to be avoided.
  • All that is possible will be done to create flexible spaces that can be repurposed to meet a variety of needs. This is a priority especially for the auditorium and kitchen space—and gallery/exhibition space.
  • The community center concept requires a highly cooperative, effective, welcoming leader and highly competent staff.
  • Focus programming on the goals listed above.

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The Planning Committee unanimously and enthusiastically endorsed this report, its goals and recommendations as summarized above. 

I have sent the report to the Board of the Thorne Building Community Center where it shall be discussed and where it must receive final approval for implementation. The members of this board are Oakleigh Thorne, George Whalen III, Ann Gifford and Charlie Pierce.

Charles E. Pierce, Jr. – October 29, 2018