Blaine, Mars Hill hearing seeks input on future of community center
MARS HILL, Maine — The towns of Blaine and Mars Hill will hold a public hearing this month to ask residents to vote on whether to move forward with planning for a new community center.
Leaders of the two towns will gather with residents to take a vote on whether to continue discussions to replace the Mars Hill-Blaine Community Center at 7 p.m. Monday, July 22, at Central Aroostook High School’s music room.
At a meeting Tuesday, elected leaders from both towns agreed to get further input from local voters before spending money on conceptual plans for a new building to replace the community center, the former Aroostook Central Institute school.
The towns have already spent $22,000 for an engineering analysis of the community center, which houses the towns’ shared recreation program and has a number of public accessibility and safety problems, including a leaking roof.
“We can’t spend any money on a concept drawing until we find out if the towns say yes or no,” said Mars Hill councillor Trent Lundeen, echoing a sentiment shared among the towns’ leaders.
Members of the Blaine select board and Mars Hill council said they could support building a new community center, with the goal of providing a place for youth, families and senior citizens to exercise and gather for community events year-round.
But they agreed Tuesday that residents of the two towns need to weigh in before going further into the planning process and paying for a conceptual drawing.
If voters okay moving forward at the hearing, the next step would be having a conceptual drawing and then holding a referendum on approving a borrowing package to start construction next spring.
If the proposal to move forward is voted down, the towns will hold a referendum to borrow $150,000 to demolish the current community center, said Mars Hill town manager David Cyr.