Over eight years ago, Derick Daly and his wife Dina were first interviewed by the Talbot Spy about their ambitious after-school project Building African-American Minds (BAAM). Back then, BAAM was still a fledgling organization operating from classrooms at the old Easton Elementary School, providing meals and afternoon programming. However, the Dalys were already dreaming big, envisioning a comprehensive community impact project that would transcend that initial program.
Their vision was expansive: a new facility on Jowite Street with a gym, an academic center, and a significant increase in affordable housing in the neighborhood. Additionally, they planned a preschool on Port Street, doubling as a community kitchen and another educational facility on South Street. To many, this seemed like just a nice “blue-sky” plan.
However, as the new year dawns, those seemingly lofty goals are now materializing into reality. The cornerstone of this project is the construction of a three-story, 27,000-square-foot academic center featuring 12 classrooms, a kitchen, a library, and office space.
The Daly Gardens project on Clay Street is another highlight, aiming to enhance local housing options. The plan is to construct buildings on Clay Street, relocate tenants from Jowite Street, and then rebuild on the original site, eventually offering 77 new housing units. This makes it one of the largest housing projects in Easton.
At the same time, the Polaris Village Early Learning Center, housed in a renovated historic church, is about to open its doors, providing educational space for 40 children alongside a commercial kitchen and dining hall.
Then, on South Street, the former Knights of Columbus building was transformed into the current home of the BAAM Academy, serving children from three years old to second grade. Once the main academic center and the Early Learning Center are operational, this site will become a full-time daycare facility.
Despite these remarkable successes, challenges remain. A significant pro-profit apartment project, designed to help fund the Dalys children programs and low-income housing projects, has hit more than a few bumps. The 162-unit complex faced local homeowner opposition despite the approval of Easton’s planning and zoning commission, sending the Dalys and their team back to the drawing board for a new approach.
All of this has been part of Spy’s ongoing coverage of Derick and Dina’s leadership and entrepreneurship since that first interview in 2016. In this segment, Derek summarizes those successful stories and some of their headaches as they navigate the political and regulatory challenges of large-scale residential housing.
This video is approximately 11 minutes in length. For more information about BAAM and Polaris Learning please go here.