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Copyright 2014 Sun Journal
Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine)

AUBURN -- A survey of fields, courts and gymnasiums is the first step toward figuring out what recreation facilities the city needs, Mayor Jonathan LaBonte told city councilors Monday.

Councilors reviewed a pair of studies looking at Auburn facilities. One was a study of ways to reuse Ingersoll Arena, the former ice rink. The second was a survey of existing recreation venues.

Councilors were critical, saying the facilities study didn't consider what residents wanted.

"Before we spend any more money on an athletic field assessment, we should have an idea of a recreation master plan," Councilor Tizz Crowley said. "That's usually the first step."

But LaBonte said the assessment performed by Wright-Pierce Engineers is the first step toward creating a master plan.

"This was not the end-all study for us to make all the recommendations," LaBonte said. "The intent was to create a baseline of what was happening on the ground. The point of not having a public process or surveys or asking people what they want was not a part of this first phase."

The study, which was included in the City Council's agenda packet for Monday's meeting, counts all city recreation facilities, whether they are owned by the city, by Auburn schools or by private entities. It includes Central Maine Community College's gymnasium and fields, Saint Dominic Academy's fields and the fields managed and cared for by the local soccer, baseball and softball leagues.

The next step is to look at the condition of those facilities and find out what the community wants.

Crowley said the current assessment should have taken the quality of existing facilities into consideration. For example, it lists the city having multiple usable tennis courts, while only the courts at Edward Little High School are in reasonable shape. That should have been taken into account, she said.

"To me, this is like saying we are going to build a house and we're going to start by deciding what kind of sound system we'll have in the living room rather than what is it that we need," Crowley said.

Crowley said she also found multiple grammatical and spelling errors in the report.

LaBonte said it did have flaws, especially when it tried to base the city's needs on what other communities have for recreation fields.

City Manager Clinton Deschene said the report did offer some new information. For example, both Saint Dom's and CMCC have two soccer fields that are relatively close to each other and are underused.

The second study, a business and marketing study of Ingersoll Arena, suggests a multipurpose turf field may be the best use for the former ice rink. Indoor tennis or basketball courts are other notable reuses, according to the study performed by Cordjia Capital Projects Group.

Auburn began operating its new dual surface facility, the Norway Savings Bank Arena, last fall as a replacement for the Ingersoll Arena. Since then, the city has been considering ways to reuse the building.


June 17, 2014




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