Presque Isle voters approve new community center

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff
Posted Nov. 07, 2012, at 5:01 p.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Voters in the city agreed on Tuesday to support a local referendum that will pave the way for the construction of a new community center.

City officials said Wednesday evening that, while they were still counting ballots, the project brought in 2,116 votes in support of the initiative, approximately 1,000 votes more than were cast against the initiative.

The William V. Haskell Community Center was built in 1964 as a place where youths and adults could gather to exercise, hold meetings and conduct other activities.

Now, the three roofs on the building are leaking, floor joists are beginning to rot, the electrical service is outdated, asbestos is in the wall and ceiling panels, and the chimney is cracked and breaking up, among other problems.

In 2006, the community began sketching plans to replace the 7,200-square-foot building, but action was hampered by a downturn in the economy.

The City Council soon opted to have the voters decide how to proceed.

The city will now move forward with plans to build the new center, but only after fundraising efforts bring in a minimum of half of the estimated $6.8 million project cost. Approximately $3.75 million of the remaining cost will come from taxpayers.

The new center will be located on 8 acres on Chapman Street. The site was chosen because of its closeness to the downtown, the outdoor pool, the bicycle path and Riverside Park, which is where the Presque Isle Recreation Department operates its soccer program.

Originally, the architectural plan called for a $10 million, 37,000-square-foot, two-story facility. That proposal was scaled back due to the downturn in the economy. The revised proposal calls for a 30,000-square-foot, single-story facility.

City officials said the facility will meet community needs for the next 70 years, with expanded space for all age groups. It will feature a teen and senior center, walking track, gymnasium, multipurpose room, locker rooms, art room and kitchen facilities.

The city secured funding several years ago to clean up the Chapman Street land and make sure it is free of contaminants.

Further details about the project, along with architectural drawings and plans, can be found on the city’s website.

In other election news, there were several seats open on the SAD 1 school board. They will be filled by Terry Sandusky, Susan Goulet, Susan Cook, Scott Norton and Luther James Bubar. One school board seat was not yet decided by Wednesday evening.

Incumbent Richard Engels was elected to the City Council. During a meeting Wednesday morning, Craig Green was appointed to take a council seat vacated by Jessica Chase Smith, who resigned in October.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/11/07/news/aroostook/presque-isle-voters-approve-new-community-center/ printed on September 21, 2014