GORHAM – It’s been nearly a year since classroom space at the former Little Falls school was converted into a place for senior citizens to drink their morning coffee, play cribbage and put together puzzles.

The group now has more than 100 members — and less than a year to find a new home.

The town has allowed the Lakes Region Senior Center to use the building at no cost, but warned that it could stay only through June 2013.

The building was considered for a new fire station. Last week, the Town Council discussed a proposal to build a police station there, but couldn’t decide what to do.

Until it does, the future of the former school — and the seniors’ group — will be uncertain.

Tuesday morning, between cribbage moves, Ethel Blake said members of the group are worried about finding a new place to meet.

“Of course we are — all of us. Where are we going to go?” said Blake, who’s 84.

She has come to the center almost every day since her husband of 66 years moved into a nursing home last fall. He died in December.

“I was damn lonesome,” she said, “so I came here.”

The senior center, which takes up two classrooms in the former school, is open Monday through Thursday.

In one room, a coffee and snack bar is set up along fold-out tables. Ray Perron comes in as soon as the center opens at 9 a.m. to make the coffee.

Across the hall is the movie room, where members watch films or play games on a Nintendo Wii.

The knitters meet every Tuesday, Perron’s poker game is on Wednesday, and members bring in paddles for pickleball at least a couple of times a week.

Every month, there’s a party with cake and ice cream to celebrate birthdays.

“We old people just love to be fed,” said 80-year-old Avis Fleck.

There isn’t a working kitchen — that’s one change the group would like to see if repairs are made to maintain the former school as a community center.

Councilor Philip Gagnon proposed asking voters in November to spend $500,000 to make improvements to the building, if the town decides not to use it for public safety departments. The council tabled the proposal until its next meeting.

It’s the group’s only hope for staying put.

Glenn Lynds, president of the senior center, said the Little Falls location is ideal because it’s near the border of Gorham and Windham, where most of the members live.

But he’s not banking on the council moving forward with the community center, and has been looking for a new home.

The recreation department’s before- and after-school programs for elementary school students have also been based in the Little Falls building, since September, and have to be out by next June.

Town Manager David Cole said that even if no decision is made about the building’s future use, it’s too expensive for the town to operate for another year.

The town budgeted $38,000 to keep it open this year and expects to offset those expenses with $15,000 from program fees.

Recreation Director Cindy Hazelton said her department’s programs could return to the former Robie School, where they were before the Sebago Education Alliance moved out of the Little Falls school last year.

The senior center could come, too, she said, but would have to set up and take down its furnishings every day to make way for the building’s other uses.

For the seniors, Fleck said, “that’s just too much.”

Still, she’s confident they’ll find another place.

“I have faith,” she said. “Somewhere, somehow, something will come out.”

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

[email protected]