LINCOLN, Maine — If the Ballard Hill Community Center is to remain open beyond next year, volunteers will have to find ways to keep it in use, Town Manager Lisa Goodwin said Tuesday.
After Town Council instructions, Goodwin will begin looking for volunteers who can devise ways to get more use out of the aged building.
“If the community is interested in keeping the building open, I am sure we will find volunteers who will find ways to keep it going,” Goodwin said Tuesday.
Councilors chose during a meeting Monday to keep the building open until June 30, 2010, the end of the fiscal year, but several expressed concerns that its lack of use made it too expensive to operate.
Citing the expense to heat and maintain the community center, the Town Council narrowly avoided voting to close it during budget deliberations in June 2008. Several votes occurred before councilors, who loathe raising town taxes, chose to fund its operation.
At the time, the programs that used the town-owned building included Meals for Me, a Christian school, Head Start, a clothing bank, and a few other civic groups that cater largely to low-income residents. The building also is available for private functions, such as weddings or parties, but is seldom rented for those.
Today, the meals program remains at the building, and is charged no rent, Recreation Department Director Ron Weatherbee said. The town recreation programs also use it as a computer game room year-round and for arts and crafts in the fall. All the other users have moved out, he said.
The building’s maintenance costs, age, energy inefficiency and lack of use are problems. Even some seniors who use the building lament the building’s inefficiency, but said they feared that they would have nowhere to go if the building closed.
Residents interested in helping find uses for the building may call Goodwin at 794-3372.