Copyright 2016 Bangor Daily News
Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Presque Isle's new Sargent Family Community Center has been a project long in the making and city leaders hope it will be a vibrant activity space for youth, adults, families and elders from around central Aroostook County for a long time to come.
The $7.5 million, 30,000-square-foot community center is named after the family of local trucking company owner Bruce Sargent, who donated $1.5 million to the project, and officially opened on Oct. 31.
The city celebrated a grand opening on Oct. 29, kicking it off with a performance by the Presque Isle High School Band. Several hundred people toured the large gym, which can hold more than 1,700 people, and the conference rooms, youth and senior's sections, and a wall photography and art display.
"This is probably one of the best community centers in the state. It's a huge asset," said Presque Isle recreation director Chris Beaulieu. "People can come just to hang out, or participate in a program or open gym. Adult programming is going to expand. We're doing a new men's basketball league, pickleball, volleyball."
The modern, sunlight-filled community center has been in the works for more than a decade to replace the beloved but deteriorating Haskell Recreation Center, the more than 70-year-old basketball gym and activity center that evolved from a United Service Organization club.
Thousands of people have fond memories of the Haskell Center, and city government leaders are hoping to see thousands use the Sargent Family Community Center, said Beaulieu.
Anyone from anywhere will be able to come to the center for open gym or for the teen and seniors rooms, to sit, talk with friends, read, play games or use the free internet, Beaulieu said.
Different groups like the Aroostook Agency on Aging and Wintergreen Arts will be holding programs and events that may be free or come with fees, while the municipal recreation department's programs will continue to come with resident and nonresident fees. The community center effort raised $3.9 million in donations, with the rest of the $7.5 million covered by the city through a bond financing program at an annual payment of $444,000.
The center also will host new intramural sports programs for middle and high schoolers, and in the future Beaulieu and others said they would like to expand outdoor activities, taking advantage of the center's location near Riverside Park, the Presque Isle Stream and the biking and pedestrian path.
For more information, visit the new center's Facebook page.
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