The Presque Isle Community Center is a project I have worked on closely over the past many months and something I think is hugely important to our community. Looking back through my lifetime of growing up in Presque Isle I can think of no place I further enjoyed or had a larger impact on my life than the rec center. The countless baseball, soccer, basketball games, birthdays with my friends at the center, playing pool on the stage, coaching youngsters throughout high school, and working maintenance during summers all contributed hugely to who I have become, and I think are a large reason why I feel so close to this community.
During the past months of thinking about the project I’ve really come to realize how much a new community center is needed. The existing facility is a deteriorating 70+ year old building that was never built to be a community center in the first place. There is limited parking, seating, insufficient space for programming, inadequate handicap accessibility, and it is located on the busiest street in town. Thinking back to my crossing guard days, I shudder to think of the number of times I almost got struck while helping kids cross the street. If by building this new community center in an area where kids won’t have to travel across Main Street we avoid even one injury, or worse, a death it will be a bargain. There is nothing more important than the safety of our children.
As I’ve discussed this project with the community a major concern has been its price, and the fact that it will raise taxes if not funded entirely by donations. I realize that money is tight during these economic times, but this is a long-term economic development project that will hugely increase the desirability of our community. It will beautify our downtown area, greatly increase foot traffic to the nearby businesses on Main Street, and make more people and businesses think Presque Isle is the place to be. In time this growth will increase the tax base and reduce the economic burden on our community.
Lots of people have asked about upgrading the existing facility, but to put significant money into an aging building that was never meant to be a community center just doesn’t make sense. It would still be a 70+-year-old building that will never meet the needs of our community. If we did that, we would be readdressing this project a handful of years later only to find the price of construction increased, and countless missed opportunities for our children and community.
To the citizens of Presque Isle, I hope you come with me to the polls November 6th to support the possibility for a new Community Center in Presque Isle. I can think of nothing more important for the future growth and viability of this community.