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FARRELL Pastor proposes community center



Published: Tue, August 27, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The new building would show that the city plans to make Idaho Street vibrant again, the pastor said.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

FARRELL, Pa. -- The Rev. Wilbert Hadden wants to build a $1.1 million multipurpose community center on the northeast corner of Idaho Street and Spearman Avenue.

The Rev. Mr. Hadden announced his plans to Farrell City Council on Monday, saying the city owns five lots at the location he wants for the project.

St. Adalbert's Polish Club owns title to the rest, he said.

Mr. Hadden, pastor of Greater Mount Zion Church of God in Christ on Roemer Boulevard, retired in May from Slippery Rock University, where he was chairman of the department of academic services.

One of the reasons he retired at age 60 was to help revitalize the Idaho Street area, he said.

Idaho Street is a high-crime area of the city.

"I figured if I don't do it now while I still have the strength and energy, it won't get done," he said.

Display of intentions

Mr. Hadden, who was born in Warren but moved to Farrell in 1957, said it's important to put up a building on Idaho that shows that the community plans to rebuild what was once a thriving commercial district.

The block-and-brick building he is proposing would do that, he told council, adding that he doesn't have any money in hand yet but has targeted a number of individuals that he thinks will be major contributors.

Mr. Hadden didn't rule out also seeking some public funds for the project.

He said a number of social-service agencies have indicated a willingness to put offices in the building, including The Mercer County Juvenile Probation Office, the Endorse Resistance of All Substance Abuse Everywhere anti-drug group, Minority Health Center, Singles Helping Singles and a child-care program.

Using vacant building?

Councilman Robert Burich asked if Mr. Hadden might be interested in the vacant J.A. Farrell School Building near the northeast corner of that same intersection.

The building is owned by the Mercer County Area Agency on Aging, which had operated it as a senior-service center and started to renovate it before deciding to relocate the center to Hermitage.

Mr. Hadden said he looked at that building but learned it would cost about $1.5 million just to finish the renovation work.

It would be less expensive and a better project to put up a new building right at the corner, he said.

Mr. Hadden said this is a community project. He doesn't want to own or manage the building, nor does he want an office there.

City council took no immediate action on his request for the land, but Mayor William Morocco asked Mr. Hadden to come back to council when he has a timetable for his project.




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