BELFAST, Maine — Belfast’s new director of the Parks and Recreation Department comes with experience — 24 years of experience, to be exact.
That’s how long Norm Poirier, 54, of Winterport worked as the director of parks, recreation and facilities for Orono, where he helped generations of children play sports and take part in the summer and afterschool programs, among other duties.
Poirier, who began his new post with the city of Belfast two weeks ago, said that he’s enjoying settling in and learning about the department and the new community. His position had been vacant for six months, since former director Jim Bell resigned last October, and the former Orono department head said he decided it was time for a change.
“I’ve always admired the growth and development of Belfast,” Poirier said Wednesday. “I’ve watched it over four or five years, and said, ‘Boy, that’s a place I’d like to be.’”
City officials said they reciprocate the sentiment. Belfast City Manager Joe Slocum said Poirier was the unanimous first choice of the hiring committee.
“We’re really excited,” he said. “When you go out to the workforce and you look for someone who can direct and lead, you are very lucky to find somebody who has done this for more than 20 years. He’s taken a small department and grown it. He understands everything about parks and recreation. It makes my job easier.”
Poirier said that Belfast seems more weighted toward the parks side of parks and recreation than Orono. The Waldo County YMCA offers lots of recreation opportunities for the city’s youths and older folks, too, Poirier said.
“They do a wonderful job, so why duplicate things?” he said, adding that he feels very welcomed by the city’s parks commission members and others.
“It’s always nice to be appreciated,” Poirier said. “My door is always open. I love to hear from people in the city.”
Over time, he expects to learn more about what Belfast can offer in terms of recreation, with some early ideas including more programming and activities for senior citizens and more daytime-use ideas for the Belfast Boathouse. But right away, Poirier said he’d like to give some attention to maintenance for some of the park facilities. In Belfast City Park, which is what he called the “focal point” for the city, he’s noticed that picnic tables need to be rebuilt and painted and grills need to be repaired.
“There are longtime, enjoyed amenities like the pool that are aging,” Poirier said. “Some things there that are old, like the bathhouse by the pool — it has a concrete shell. It reminds you of a basement, or a jail cell. We need to brighten it up.”
He said he also is looking forward to continuing to develop the relationships that groups such as the Waldo County YMCA and the newly formed Cal Ripken League have formed with the city of Belfast.
“And moving those relationships forward in a collaborative way,” Poirier said.
The new director pointed out that Belfast has a constant stream of activities that happen in its streets and in its parks, especially in the summertime, that make it an attractive destination for folks.
“Weekend after weekend, things are happening,” Poirier said. “Being a part of those, it’s exciting. It’s great to see those things taking place.”