Monday’s 2014 budget meeting took an unexpected turn when City Manager Jim Bennett proposed the William Haskell Rec Center in Presque Isle be demolished. Bennett told us that the rec center being demolished has nothing to do with the 2014 budget, it was more of a time to make it known that this building may not last for much longer.”
Bennett said, “There isn’t anything that’s in the actual budget document to either fund this or stop funding the rec or any of that kind of items, so if you take the budget document itself, nothings changed…the reality is the city has since 2006 been trying to figure out what to do with the rec center.”
The Recreation department was acquired from the USO in 1945, Bennett said he brought up the recreation center issue to address the fact that the community needs to make a decision whether this is important to them, and if they would be committed to building a new rec center… by bringing this up now, he hopes the community agrees,and by the spring or the summer they could make substantial amounts of progress in raising money and the existing building would last until a new rec center is built. Bennett feels putting money into the current building would not work.
Bennett added, “If we have to put money into it were talking 1 million, 2 million dollars and we still have a really old building that still has issues, I’m not sure the tax payers really want us to spend that kind of money on that building when we could have us potentially spend 3, 3 and a half million dollars and get the facility that we really need.”
Bennett is trying to encourage people have that conversation and make the decision about whether or not this is a project that makes sense or not. He tells us if they are not able to move forward on it, then the building will have to last another half decade without putting money into it. He says, he doesn’t see that happening