LINCOLN, Maine — It hasn’t quite worked as a community center and not enough businesses and civic organizations have rented its space to have it make money as an office, but town leaders think they have an idea of what they can do to make the Ballard Hill Community Center self-sustaining and beneficial to the community.
They can turn it into a haunted house.
Town Councilors Curt Ring and David Whalen will meet on Thursday with town events coordinator Amanda Woodard and former Town Council Chairman Steve Clay to begin exploring the design of the haunted house, Town Manager Lisa Goodwin said.
“We are acquiring the stuff to put it together, you know, the dead bodies and things — Halloween props,” Goodwin said Tuesday. “We will look at the design to see what we can get.”
The Town Council agreed during a recent meeting to explore the possibilities. Clay, who had the original idea, thinks a haunted house could be a successful money-maker for town organizations and charities, once it proves itself self-sustaining.
“Why wouldn’t it be? I had all kinds of ideas when we did the walk-through last week,” Clay said Tuesday. “I don’t know if I want to give them away right now. We are still in the planning process right now, for one thing.”
“Curt Ring is the one who really pushed for it,” Clay added.
The haunted house would run in October with help from volunteers and donations. The two-story center’s basement and first floor would be used, Goodwin said.
Clay has some experience with Halloween events. His displays at his house typically draw several hundred residents annually, he said.
Councilors considered closing the center in February, with Ring saying he was concerned that the building wasn’t being used enough and had accumulated net operating losses of about $40,500 over the past two fiscal years.
Councilors chose in August 2009 to keep the building open, but several expressed concerns that its lack of use made it too expensive. The council narrowly avoided voting to close it in June 2008.
The building registered losses of $14,000 and $26,500 in the 2009-10 and 2008-09 fiscal years, respectively. The building is paid for out of a reserve account, Goodwin has said.
Meeting attendees hope on Thursday to begin budgeting for operating the building as a haunted house, Woodard said. That meeting is not open to the public, but those interested in helping with the haunted house should call Woodard at 794-3372.