Futures Rehabilitation Center is thriving, and a new building is on the to-do list.

The plans are not new, Futures President and CEO Steve Morgan explained, but the coronavirus pandemic did mean they were at a standstill temporarily.

“This project has been on the docket for a couple years, we are going to continue to plug on, keep on moving in the right direction. We are excited,” Morgan said.

Futures has a facility at 150 Kennedy Street, The BRAD Center, that was showing its age, which was the inspiration for this move.

“That building, which has wonderfully supported our organization and that program for a number of years, is deteriorating. Also, old buildings have a layout where there’s a lot of small rooms, and that does not support people with the needs of our folks,” Morgan stated. “We want to increase the ability for positive outcomes for our folks.”

However, as the planning began and design and layout became more clear, those involved realized there was a potential benefit for more program participants.

“It was all about The BRAD Center at the beginning, but once we started developing the layout and design, we realized the Life Skills program participants at 1 Futures Way would also benefit from that,” he explained. “One of the challenges at 1 Futures Way is that our Life Skills program is located on the second floor. For fire drills and things like building evacuation, for individuals in wheelchairs or who have ambulatory limitations, it can be a challenge to evacuate as promptly as we would prefer.”

Morgan also noted that, while the building has served them well, it has been home to the program for 35 years and “this building is also due for a facelift and upgrade.”

“Around a year ago, we purchased a piece of property. The address is 615 rear East Main Street, the former home of the Auto Junction,” Morgan explained.

The current plan is to construct a single floor building with a more accessible and open floor plan. Morgan also noted the building is being designed to include larger bathrooms and energy efficiency, while the focus is on making it as low maintenance as possible.

He explained the participants in the Life Skills Program would be provided the choice of whether they want to move to the new facility or remain at the building currently in use. However, the facility at 1 Futures Way will stay in use as well.

“My goal would be to allow this location to continue to operate and really focus on specialized needs that might be presented. Oftentimes, the county will present a unique case, an individual with specialized needs, and we can wrap programs around individuals in this facility. Our focus is on meeting the needs of the community, and it is not uncommon that we have Karen Abbott from the (McKean County Department of Human Services) reach out and ask us to help out with a special situation.”

Several meetings are scheduled for the month of November: meetings on Nov. 1 & 2 at 6:30 p.m. and on Nov. 3 & 4 at 10 a.m. All meetings will be held in the cafeteria at 1 Futures Way. Masks will be required. Light refreshments will be offered.

“We are hoping to see those that have connections to the program — either Life Skills or the BRAD Center — whether it be staff, participants, families, other agency stakeholders, donors, other area nonprofits, anybody that has connection to those programs and is interested in providing input and feedback,” Morgan said.

Morgan said the plan is to cover the reasons for moving forward with a new building, as well as specifics associated with that, including design elements of the building and adjustments to the program model.

“We want this to be what the stakeholders want it to be, we want to match the program’s ability to meet their needs where they want it to be,” Morgan said. “Choice is a big deal for people with disabilities, we would like them to have some say in how they are supported.”

He explained that the new building will include an outdoor sitting area, and other suggestions he has already received include an outdoor garden and a sensory room within the building. He said he is compiling a list of suggestions and considers this an opportunity to brainstorm.

“It is a little nebulous, we are in the initial planning phase of all of this, and things will become more concrete as we move forward,” Morgan said, noting it will be months before construction will begin. “We are being as proactive as possible to make sure what we are putting together meets the needs of the people in the program.”

Morgan explained that he will have a preliminary floor plan, which has been created with input from a local contractor, to show those who attend the meetings.

A matching grant opportunity is being pursued to assist with funding the new building. Morgan explained that he is waiting to hear about that. A fundraising campaign will be organized once there are more definite timelines set for the building construction.