FORT KENT, Maine — The Fort Kent Lions gave the town something to roar about Saturday with the dedication of a new 6,000-square-foot open pavilion in Riverside Park.
“We think this is great, and it’s everything we had hoped for and more,” Stephen Gagne, club member and project co-chairman, said. “This structure will help develop the park and bring in a host of opportunities.”
The Lions used $40,000 of its own funds to kick-start the $250,000 project and combined that with a $169,000 bank loan guaranteed by the town.
“We also have some private donations coming in,” Gagne said.
The structure — dubbed “The Lions Den” — is constructed of hand-hewn spruce logs and beams from Tobique Log Homes of New Brunswick, Canada.
“The entire structure was assembled on-site at the factory,” Gagne said. “Then they numbered the logs and other pieces, disassembled it, brought it here and put it back together.”
There are plans to pour a cement slab under the structure and obtain weather-resistant curtain walls so the building may be used in the winter or in the event of rain.
“This pavilion was a dream of a few that is now a reality today for the many people in the Fort Kent community,” Gagne said. “This pavilion has enjoyed the support of the Fort Kent community.”
According to Gagne, the notion for a pavilion began six years ago and resurfaced last year with the club’s special projects committee.
“It did not take long for the Lions to get on the bandwagon,” Gagne said. “This is just the latest project we’ve done in Riverside Park.”
A nearby RV park, restroom facilities and a gazebo were also Lions Club projects.
“We accept this donation from the Lions very graciously,” Louis Moreau, Fort Kent Town Council chairman, said. “This is certainly a project the community could not have done on its own.”
Future plans for the facility include concerts, a farmers market, private parties and family events.
“There are not too many facilities like this around here,” Rob Johnson, project co-chairman, said. “We’ve already had interest from people wanting to book it for weddings and other functions.”
Discussions are under way between the Lions and municipal officials for the handling of maintenance responsibilities.
Gagne pointed out the structure is located on the town’s flood plain, but said the lack of walls and type of construction mean it is in complete regulatory compliance.
“The Lions wanted a signature project,” Gagne said. “This is the largest project we’ve done in our 72-year history, and it’s really a way of giving back to the community [and] it will be our legacy.”