ROCKLAND, Maine — The city’s recreation center just might lose its 1930s art deco look in the showers and restrooms if a proposed Community Development Block Grant materializes.
The City Council on Monday night voted 5-0 to authorize the city manager to apply to the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development for a $350,000 grant to renovate the building, which serves as a recreation center, office for the Rockland District Nursing Association and election polling place.
The building, constructed in 1936, also is a backup emergency shelter and informal warming place, said recreation director Rene Dorr.
“We don’t have a formal agreement with the city [for a shelter], but people are always welcome to come in and sit and get warm, especially if they have no heat at home,” Dorr said.
The purpose of the grant application is to make health, safety and building improvements to the recreation center, according to the order approved by the council.
Improvements would consist of roof replacement over the weight room; new boys and girls locker rooms, including restrooms and showers; front step upgrades; and renovations to the Rockland District Nursing Association and after-school program rooms.
Interim City Manager Terry Pinto said Monday that Rockland would spend $85,000 as a match to the state grant, adding that the match should be seen as an investment rather than an expenditure. He said the city has $40,000 in a reserve account and could take the remaining $45,000 from a land sale reserve and an undesignated fund balance.
Rockland community development director Rodney Lynch said the application must be filed by Jan. 23. In a phone conversation with the DECD office, he learned that 19 communities have filed letters of intent, including Rockland, for a grant pool of $1.1 million for public facilities grants.
“It’s very competitive,” Lynch said of the process.
The city in 2007 obtained CDBG funds to install a rubberized roof over the gym and a rear handicapped-access door, said Lynch.