Lincoln panel to review recreation center design

Posted Jan. 31, 2011, at 10:23 p.m.

LINCOLN, Maine — A very preliminary design for a recreation center to be located on land off Route 6 tops out at about $7 million and will be reviewed by a Town Council committee next week, officials said Monday.

The center probably won’t be built as designed, Town Manager Lisa Goodwin said. As put together by Plymouth Engineering Inc., the features and costs of the proposal function more as a wish list and a yardstick than anything Goodwin would recommend for council approval, she said.

“We are in the first stage of the process where we say, ‘What are the things the community wants?’ Then we throw all those things into the pot,” Goodwin said Monday. “Now we have to look at what can we cut out.”

The design will be unveiled when the Recreation Center Building Committee meets at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7, at the town office. Residents are invited to attend.

The council formed the committee last April with a charge to guide the proposed center through engineering and topographical studies of the 10.6 acres of town-owned land off Route 6 with an eye toward preparing a building proposal, complete with price tag, for voters to consider.

No referendum dates have been set. Officials have said the center won’t be built until voters approve it and that it will be paid for by grants, donations and fundraisers as much as possible.

The Lincoln community’s desires were measured years ago in a residents’ survey that determined that a swimming pool, gymnasium and track were among the desired features.

“We might not take anything out; we might change something,” committee member Paul Labrecque said. “We might say, ‘Instead of this gold fixture, let’s use a silver one.’ Things like that. The pool could be in an alternate bid or something that we add later.”

As of Dec. 31, the Community Recreational Center Trust Fund had a balance of $370,129 — plus the fundraising trust account’s $36,709 — for a total of $406,839. The Furrow family of Lincoln also sold 10.6 acres off Route 6 to the town in June 2007 at what officials called a generously low price, $95,000. W.T. Gardner and Sons of Lincoln donated about $20,000 worth of road and drainage construction.

“There is a large part of the community that wants a rec center. They do want it and finally the council said let’s move forward and see what it will cost,” Goodwin said.

Among the things committee members are considering, Goodwin said, is partnering with other towns that would use the center to help pay for it.

The design, she said, also is crucial to helping town officials write grant proposals or to seek other funding. The council can opt to use TIF funds from the Rollins Mountain wind-to-energy project to pay for infrastructure associated with the center, Goodwin said.

“There will be a balancing act between what citizens want and can afford because right now we can’t afford a rec center. If we were going to put all of this on the back of the taxpayer, absolutely not. We just cannot afford it,” Goodwin said.

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