PRESQUE ISLE – City Council was formally informed during Monday night’s session of the chosen site for the proposed Community Center.
Staff photo/Kathy McCarty
COMMUNITY CENTER FINDS A HOME – Kevin Sipe, chairman of the Community Center Committee, shows City Council the proposed plans for land at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Chapman Rd. – the selected site for a new Community Center, with Rec Department activities taking place on either side of Chapman Rd. Once completed, the site will be home to a new building, several ball fields, a basketball court and tennis courts, as well as room for a new outdoor pool.
After months of deliberation and the narrowing of options to four locations around the city, the Community Center Committee determined the best spot to put the facility will be property at the intersection of Chapman Rd. and Riverside Drive.
“The site selection process began in 2006. A subcommittee was created and looked at about 30 different parcels in the community. Guideline/boundaries included a southerly border at the Presque Isle Inn and Convention Center, north to the Aroostook River bridge, westerly to Parsons St. and easterly to the Centerline Rd. Options were narrowed to four or five sites. Now we’ve decided on one,” said Chris Beaulieu, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, speaking to the Council.
Next up with the details was Kevin Sipe, chair of the Community Center Committee. Sipe noted the four locations the committee selected from included: Fairview Acres, an UMPI parcel, property near Mantle Lake and a downtown site near the courthouse.
“The site we chose is the location of the former Beaulieu’s Hardware, adjacent to the railroad tracks,” said Sipe, adding that the location was “a perfect tie-in with the Downtown Revitalization Committee’s efforts.”
Sipe showed councilors an aerial view of the property and an engineer’s rendition of the proposed development.
“It’s kind of in the shape of a lobster claw. There will be two right-of-ways, it connects to the bike path and the proximity to ball fields and other current sites the Rec Department operates works well,” said Sipe.
As depicted in the proposed design, the new Community Center would be located on the corner of Riverside where the Rec Department currently has a building. A softball field and soccer field would be located to the south of the structure, along the bike path. On the opposite side of the street, there would be room for a basketball court, an outdoor pool, tennis courts and a Little League field. That parcel would abut the railroad’s, following the tracks and running behind current residences.
Sipe said the committee has been working with Larry Clark, executive director of the Industrial Council, to determine if the site passes DEP guidelines. Now that the first phase of environmental assessments have been completed with DEP, with work completed this winter, it’s on to phase 2.
“The DEP, Nick and Lou, have provided assistance and advice – providing funding for phase 1 and 2. Funding is at zero cost to the city and property owners and is provided through the Brownfield Program and administered through the DEP office in Augusta. We’ve been given the green light to move to phase 2. We’ve completed the process on the hardware store site and now have work to be done on two other properties. We’ll have DEP back in May and hopefully have the process completed by June,” said Sipe.
Sipe explained the Brownfield Program provides funding for such projects to municipalities.
“Because a municipality was looking to purchase, funds will be there. The program is only available to municipalities. If clean-up issues arrive on the properties, funds will be available to do the cleanup. Using geo borings, and using DEP words, ‘there isn’t anything jumping out’ at those sites,” said Sipe.
“This is one very exciting project and we look forward to completing the process,” Sipe told the Council.
Council Chairman Walt Elish expressed thanks, on behalf of the Council, to those who’ve worked to bring the project this far.
“The Council appreciates the work of Larry, Kevin and Chris. It’s been a long process, interesting at times. Being able to tie in with the DRC, getting funding through DEP – we’re making progress,” said Elish.
The proposed Community Center will replace the Rec Center on Main St. A new facility was deemed necessary, since the Main St. building dates back to the 1940s, is in need of major repairs, has limited parking and has cramped space for activities, among other reasons. City officials hope the new building will serve not only local residents but will provide a place to hold a variety of other events to attract visitors from other communities.
Clark has been working with property owners along Chapman Rd. in the area in question, working to reach agreements to acquire the necessary parcels. Once completed, the site will cover about 8.5 acres and be centrally located for easy access to downtown. Once all the necessary land is acquired, development will continue. No dollar amount for the project was given at Council, nor has a design for the proposed building been released.