Robert Bass, treasurer of the Orono Economic Development Corporation, unlocks the door to the future Caribou Bog Trail Center in Orono, Oct. 20, 2021. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

A property that was once part of a fishing bait business in Orono will become a new outdoor recreation center aimed at drawing more people to a network of trails and conservation land that stretches from Bangor to Old Town.

The property that will become the Caribou Bog Trail Center is located by the trail network that skiers and hikers alike have used for years.

“Right now it’s utilized by folks that know it,” said Robert Bass, treasurer of the Orono Economic Development Corporation, which purchased the former Taylor Bait Farm property at the end of Taylor Road after it was put up for sale in 2018. “The hope is to make it more family-friendly and encouraging to more people. It’s meant to encourage more users to recreate and use these lovely assets.”

The buildings were used by the bait operation, and the renovation is expected to cost about $300,000.

The Orono Economic Development Corporation received a $120,000 federal grant earlier this year, allowing the project to start to become a reality.

From left: A map of the Caribou Bog recreation trails sits on a desk inside the future home of the Caribou Bog Trail Center in Orono, Oct. 20, 2021; Boulder Pond sits just outside of what will be the Caribou Bog Trail Center in Orono. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

On Monday, the Orono Town Council agreed to donate an amount of money to the Orono Economic Development Corporation that’s equivalent to what the group would have to pay the town in permit fees related to the project.

But about $200,000 still needs to be raised.

The initial goal was to open the center for use this upcoming winter season, but now construction is slated to be completed by July 30, 2022, Bass said.

The Orono Economic Development Corporation, Orono Land Trust and Penobscot Valley Ski Club would jointly run the center. The land trust bought land and ponds adjacent to the recreation center building in 2019 from the economic development corporation to conserve it.

The inside of the main portion of the center will be wide open, with cubbies along the back where trail users can store their belongings as well as a single bathroom. Along the front will be a deck with sweeping views of the pond that sits just steps away from the door, according to renderings of the project.

Boulder Pond, soaking up rays of a fall sun in Orono, Oct. 20, 2021. The pond is part of swath of land with trails on it and will be the new home of the Caribou Bog Trail Center. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

In the second smaller building, the hope is to turn one area into a space where people can attend to skis or mountain bikes, depending on the season, Bass said.

Construction is expected to kick off soon, he said.

“It is a great project and it didn’t happen today, but often I get choked up talking about it,” Bass said. “I just think it’s going to be a great recreational, family, lifestyle asset.”

Sawyer Loftus

Sawyer Loftus is a reporter covering Old Town, Orono and the surrounding areas. A recent graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he's worked for Vermont Public Radio, The...