LINCOLN, Maine — The town is seeking a qualified firm to help develop plans to build a recreation center on 10.6 acres off Route 6, the Town Council chairman said Tuesday.
With Councilor Thora House absent, the council voted 6-0 Monday to pursue a request for qualifications for businesses — possibly engineers or architects — interested in developing center plans and cost estimates, said Council Chairman Steve Clay.
“We want them to show us similar things they may have done in the past, and that way we can set a direction to go in toward building a rec center,” Clay said Tuesday. “This means that we are getting to the point where we need to do this to get the project going, and this is the first step in the procedure to get a rec center built.”
Recreation center ideas or plans of one sort or another have been around since 2002, when the Lincoln Community Recreational Center Trust Fund was created. Center construction cost estimates have gone as high as $6.7 million, but councilors have expressed interest in cutting back that ambitious design to something more manageable.
As of Jan. 1, the fund had $389,500 in it, town Community Events Coordinator Shelly Crosby said Tuesday. No more recent fund accounting was available on Tuesday. Recreation center proponents have pledged that they would use grant money or donations, not town tax dollars, to build the center.
The center’s construction has no timeline or estimated start date, and the fund lacks enough money to start construction, Recreation Director Ron Weatherbee said.
What can be done with the money is among the things the consultant hired to develop center plans will determine, he said.
“We need to see what comes back from the RFQ, see what that effort does, before we can proceed,” Weatherbee said Tuesday.
Some town officials have expressed frustration at the lack of direction the recreation center effort has had. Town Manager Lisa Goodwin earlier this year said she would like to see some portion of the 10.6-acre plot used for the town skating rink this winter to reignite interest in the somewhat dormant effort.
Besides the council’s vote, the recreation center effort has another recent sign of life: Tom Gardner of WT Gardner & Sons Inc. has agreed to donate his company’s time and machinery to build a gravel road onto the property for the rink, Weatherbee said.
That work should commence within a few weeks.
“He’s going above and beyond what he needs to do,” Weatherbee said. “He is willing to do this for the benefit of the town and for the skating rink.”