Contractors will soon break ground on a new community center in Bainbridge, at the site of the former Bainbridge Scout House on Prospect Street.

The new building will serve as a multi-purpose meeting place for the community, with a kitchen, storage space and a ceiling high enough to host league volleyball games, according to John Payne, president of the Bainbridge Chamber of Commerce.

The project is funded primarily by the chamber and supplemented with donations from the community, Payne said. So far the chamber has raised $120,0000 — enough to pour concrete floors, put up the building’s shell and get it enclosed before the winter.

“A lot of our projects aren’t brick-and-mortar like this,” Payne said. “This will be something you can actually see, and it will be there for a long time.”

The Scout house was transformed from a chicken coop in the 1970s and underwent a patchwork series of renovations and repairs throughout the years, according to Payne.

“We’ve been talking about it for a couple of years,” Payne said. “It’s been a long process.”

The building, overseen by a board of directors, was intended for use by local Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and 4-H clubs, but functioned as a community center even before, hosting such events as the Finger Lakes Trail Conference, a martial arts group and several private events, he said.

“There’s no place in Bainbridge that’s handicap-accessible that can hold 30 or more people, except the school,” said Roger Barnhart, a local scoutmaster and member of the board of directors.

The town hall is not handicap-accessible, and the village hall is very small, he said. The Bainbridge Fire Department has a community room on the third floor of the station, but there’s no elevator.

Bainbridge is home to a Girl Scout troop, a Cub Scout pack and two troops under Scouts BSA, the new name of the Boy Scouts of America’s flagship organization, which was changed in February to reflect its new policy of allowing girls to join in separate, gender-specific troops, according to Barnhart.

The Bainbridge girls’ troop was the first of its kind to incorporate under the regional Baden-Powell council, Barnhart said. The two troops function equally, side-by-side, and participate in most events together.

The Scout House served as temporary lodging for three families displaced by the floods of 2006 and 2011, Barnhart said, and also serves as an emergency pickup location for the nearby Bainbridge-Guilford Central School District.

“I think it’s going to be a huge benefit to the community,” Barnhart said. “It’s nice when the whole community comes together and pools their resources to benefit everyone. I think it will be a nice success.”

Donations to the project can be made at gofundme.com/f/bainbridge-community-center.

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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