DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Like the rest of Piscataquis County, Dover-Foxcroft has one of the oldest populations in the state, yet there is no official senior citizens center in the community.
That fact has prompted a group of residents to work together to find space for such a center, possibly in Central Hall.
“About half the population is — if not now, in a few years will be — of senior age,” Chris Maas of the Friends of Central Hall Committee said Thursday. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a central place where seniors could go for social services and activities?”
Maas said Dover-Foxcroft Town Manager Jack Clukey organized a meeting last month of the town’s largest employers, including representatives from Mayo Regional Hospital, the Charlotte White Center, Penquis and the Friends of Central Hall Committee, and all were supportive of such a venture.
An organizational meeting is planned later this month for the 16 agencies and other groups in the area that work with senior citizens to see whether such a senior center is feasible and to determine how best to proceed, Maas said. Central Hall is being eyed for that project.
The town holds the title to Central Hall, but it is the friends committee that saved the building from sale or demolition and serves as caretaker of the hall in conjunction with the Dover-Foxcroft Historical Society. The friends have raised enough funds to operate the hall for a minimum of one year, so property taxes are not needed.
On behalf of the friends, Center Theatre was successful in obtaining a $20,000 Quimby Foundation grant, $15,000 of which will be used to fund some roof repairs at Central Hall. The remaining amount will be used by Center Theatre.
“We still think it [Central Hall] can be on a paying-for-itself basis,” Maas said, and a senior center could help toward that end. “Our hope is that the building will continue to not be a burden on the taxpayers, and we’re going to see how that plays out.”
Events held at the hall include an ice cream social, historical society events and play rehearsals.
“The building gets used quite a bit even now, and we think we’re just getting started with the good uses for the building,” Maas said. He said the friends group plans on scheduling 30 to 40 events in the hall, from wedding receptions to reunions, but the rest of the time it is available.
“Wouldn’t it be nice for seniors to have a place to walk in the wintertime and other sorts of things?” Maas asked. He said Central Hall could be used for a number of purposes. “Really, what we’re doing is looking for the highest and best use to benefit the entire community.” A senior center could fit that bill, he noted.