PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — An insurance company headquartered in the city donated $100,000 this week toward construction of a new $6.8 million community center.
The donation by MMG Insurance will be used to help replace the aging William V. Haskell Community Center, which 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Now, the three roofs on the building are leaking, floor joists are beginning to rot, the electrical service is outdated, asbestos is in the wall and ceiling panels, and the chimney is cracked and breaking up, among other problems.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 a referendum last year, local voters approved the project, allowing the city to proceed 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.
During a brief ceremony Tuesday afternoon, MMG Insurance presented the Presque Isle Community Center Campaign Committee with its $100,000 donation. The committee formed this year and began fundraising efforts this month, according to Chris Beaulieu, Presque Isle Recreation and Parks director and project manager for the new center.
“This is the first large donation,” Beaulieu said Wednesday.
During Tuesday’s ceremony, Larry Shaw, president and CEO of MMG Insurance, said that his company shares the same “strong sense of community” that the community center project was founded on.
“Ensuring that our area continues to thrive is essential,” he said. “As we look to the future, it’s vital that we attract and retain the talent and the people who will shape and lead our community, and one way to do that is to invest in the community.”
The new center will be located on 8 acres on Chapman Street. The site was chosen because of its closeness to the downtown, the bicycle path and Riverside Park, which is where the Presque Isle Recreation and Parks operates its soccer program.
The facility will include a large, multi-use gymnasium, as well as spaces for all ages, including toddler, teen and senior rooms. Additionally, it will offer an outdoor pool and splash pad.
Scott Norton, a local business owner and member of the campaign committee, has been working to see the project come to fruition for some time. He said he is proud that MMG is a major donor and is optimistic that other donors will follow the the company’s lead.
Steve and Lucy Richard, co-chairs of the campaign committee, said on Tuesday that they were “very excited” about the donation.
“Not only will the $100,000 help with our campaign, it’s also a wonderful feeling knowing that a local business like MMG truly believes in the project,” said Steve Richard. “We are in hopes that other businesses will now join the campaign.”
For information about the project, visit www.presqueisle.govoffice2.com and click on the link to Proposed Community Center Project.