May 28, 2018
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Veazie receives design for center upgrade

By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff

VEAZIE, Maine — The town’s effort to upgrade its historic community center continues to move ahead.

The project’s most recent advance happened last month when the town’s nine-member Community Center Advisory Committee received concept drawings from WBRC Architects and Engineers showing what the structure might look like with some needed improvements.

According to Don MacKay, a resident who is chairman of the advisory committee, the town has nearly $40,000 in grant money for energy improvements in hand to replace the building’s old, single-pane windows, light fixtures and two sets of doors.

Before spending that money, however, committee members decided to have WBRC draw up some concept plans to make sure that any energy-related improvements would not conflict with the overall building upgrade, MacKay said.

Part of that work was funded by a $3,000 grant from the Maine Community Foundation. In a memo last month to local officials, committee members and others, MacKay said that the Bangor-based design firm donated the other half of the conceptual design work.

The next steps will include having schematic plans drawn up, which will help determine how much the improvements will cost, and continuing with fundraising, MacKay said.

Built in the 1930s, the white, two-story building at the corner of Flagg and Olive streets has served as a town hall, firehouse and, in recent years, a community center.

It houses the Eastern Maine School of Self Defense and is used as a meeting place for local nonprofit groups, recreational activities and the occasional class or course.

Though still in good shape, the building needs some upgrades and the center advisory panel is working to make that happen, MacKay said. He and other committee members hope to see new uses once the upgrade is completed.

“What we’re trying to do is build on what we already have,” MacKay said, “We’re trying to update the building to make it comply with [Americans With Disability Act] codes, but it also needs to be modernized. The drawings kind of take the spaces we have and improve upon them.”

Among the planned improvements are:

ä A lift to provide wheelchair access to the building’s second floor. MacKay noted that WBRC’s recommendation would cost less than an elevator would.

ä A first-floor lobby area similar to that just inside the Veazie Community School. MacKay said committee members envision the display of historical items and community information in that area.

ä More toilets, including two on the first floor designed to meet wheelchair accessibility requirements.

ä A movable partition to provide flexibility for first-floor meeting and conference rooms.

ä Kitchen improvements, including a pass-through to move food from the kitchen to a nearby conference room.

During recent opportunities for public comment, residents have expressed a desire to see a supervised teen center, after-school programming and other children’s activities, dances and musical performances there, MacKay said.

MacKay said the community would have more opportunities to weigh in on the project.

Over the coming months, the concept drawings will be posted in locations around town.

In addition, MacKay noted, the advisory panel likely will present the concept drawings to the Town Council.

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