GREENVILLE, Maine — A $253,000 federal grant will help Natural Resource Education Center officials realize a dream they have had since 1996 — the creation of a visitors and community center on more than 18 acres near a rest area on Route 15.
Word of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant came Tuesday, said Tim Obrey, a Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologist and vice president of NREC.
The grant will allow center officials to start designing the building through the rest of the year, with construction likely beginning in 2010, he said.
“This will allow us to create one big facility,” Obrey said Wednesday. “We are looking at several building designs.”
Sally Tornquist, a member of the center’s board of directors, complimented Ken Woodbury, a community development specialist for Piscataquis County, for writing the grant application request.
The area Chamber of Commerce and other service organizations might occupy space in the new center, she said.
“We are trying to get other groups to come in,” Tornquist said.
The Maine Department of Transportation has already agreed to donate some rest area land to the project, Obrey said.
An interpretive woodlands trail on Natural Resource Education Center property off Route 15 was built in 2004. That, and the center, will promote the use of the Moosehead Lake region’s natural resources and help the area’s economic viability, center officials said.
NREC is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to promoting recreational opportunities for all ages, especially children in the region. It has as many as 13 children and adults participating in its summer programs.