Amphitheater will be Rotary’s gift to Presque Isle

10 months ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Presque Isle will have a new community space for music and cultural events thanks to the efforts of a century-old service club.

To help mark its 100 years of serving the community, the Presque Isle Rotary Club will build an amphitheater as a gift to the city.

The club unveiled the $400,000 project on April 24 and has kicked off a fundraising effort, with a goal to complete the project in two years. 

Rotarians wanted to leave a lasting impact on the community to celebrate their centennial year. Members decided an amphitheater — something the city does not have — would provide one of Presque Isle’s most popular parks with a gathering and performance space for all ages to enjoy.

Over the years the club has raised millions of dollars for efforts ranging from health care to children’s advocacy, economic development to recreation, through its annual auction and other fundraising.

“As proud as we are of playing that role for these great community projects, there was a thought that blossomed in recent years that there was an opportunity to take the lead and do something special for our community,” said Karen Gonya, co-chairperson of the Rotary Special Projects Committee leading the amphitheater project.

An amphitheater would bring much to the community and would leave a permanent structure bearing the Rotary name, Gonya said.

Six months ago, she and club Vice President Jordyn Madore gathered a team of 15 Rotarians to help plan the amphitheater. B.R. Smith Associates of Presque Isle donated the design work for the structure.

The Rotary Amphitheater will be built between the Riverside Park playground and the Mary’s Mile walking path, across from The Sargent Family Community Center. The venue will be available to everyone in the region. The club hopes the structure will continue the park’s growth and add another feature to attract people from outside the area, officials said.

Construction will be concrete slab with walls made from the same material and steel roof framing, said Mandy Pooler, an architectural designer for B.R. Smith.

Rotary will raise the funds for the project through donations.

During an April 24 ceremony at City Hall, city Public Information Officer Kim Smith helped unveil the Presque Isle Rotary granite tablet that will become the amphitheater’s cornerstone. The stone was donated to the club in June 1940 by past Rotary President Barney Thompson in honor of what Rotary meant to him, Smith said.

The ceremony also featured a proclamation by the Presque Isle City Council to honor the club.

“The city councilors of Presque Isle do hereby proclaim the week beginning Monday, April 24, 2023, as Presque Isle Rotary Week and encourage all citizens to join the council in recognizing our local Rotary Club for their service to improving the human condition in local communities here and around the world,” said Jacob Shaw, council chairperson.

For information about the amphitheater, visit the Rotary Club’s website.