P.I. residents focus on community center plans

Posted Sept. 09, 2009, at 11:48 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:42 a.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The downturn in the economy has put a lot of projects on hold, but it has not dimmed the dreams of city residents who want to see youth and adults have a better place to gather, be active, hold meetings and conduct other activities.

Plans to establish a new community center are still being sketched out by organizers, even though the project to replace the existing 7,200-square-foot William V. Haskell Community Center has slowed in tight financial times.

“The dream has been put on hold but it has not died,” Chris Beaulieu, director of the Presque Isle Recreation and Parks Department, said Wednesday. “We are still talking about this and planning for it, but we know it is not something that is going to happen as quickly as we would like it to.”

Plans to replace the Haskell center on Main Street which was built in 1944 were brought to the table in fall 2006.

The new center will be located on 8 acres on Chapman Street. The site was chosen because of its closeness to the downtown, the outdoor pool, the bike path and Riverside Park, which is where the department holds its soccer program.

The existing community center has a gym and a lounge, as well as some office space.

Officials would like to outfit the new facility with a full-size gymnasium, a walking track, a teen center, a senior citizens center, locker and meeting rooms, a kitchen and other amenities.

A site concept of the potential center has been designed. The total scope of the project and what the facility will ultimately look like will be determined once fundraising starts.

Thus far, the city has secured funding to clean up the land and make sure it is free from contaminants. Soil tests are expected to come back free of problems, and the ground then will be leveled for construction.

“We have not spent any city money on this so far,” Beaulieu said Wednesday.

Fundraising has not started at this point, he said.

“We are not doing any fundraising yet,” he confirmed. “That, and really the whole project, is still down the road because of the economy. We know that it is not the best time to ask for money. We are just biding our time until the economy brightens.”

He added that planners will conduct a feasibility study to determine what kind of capital campaign will be the most successful.

Beaulieu reiterated that no one has given up on the dream of building the new center.

“I am confident this will happen,” he said.

jlynds@bangordailynews.net

538-6567

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