ORONO – A new outdoor recreation center is in the works in Orono.
On any given day, you can find people cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at the Caribou Bog Trail Center in Orono.
“This is smack dab in the center of a lot of it, in the middle of a lot of the existing trail structure,” said Stevenson ‘Shep’ Sheppard, president of the Orono Economic Development Corporation, standing on a piece of land off Taylor Road. “It seemed like kind of a natural thing.”
Now, plans are underway to create an outdoor recreation center where the Taylor Bait Farm buildings are located, helping hikers, bikers and skiers enjoy the area year-round.
“There is nothing really like this in this immediate community,” said Bob Bass, treasurer of the Orono Economic Development Corporation.
Bass, who has championed the project, says OEDC recently received a $120,000 grant from the Maine Trails Advisory Committee of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, to renovate buildings on the property and turn them into a sort of refuge for outdoor enthusiasts.
“Walk in in your street shoes, change into your equipment, put your stuff in a cubby, go for a ski or a bike, come back, sit at a picnic table and have your picnic lunch, or a snack lunch, and use the facilities and that type of thing,” said Bass.
“This project has not changed what’s been going on here for the past five years,” Bass said. “It will just enhance it.”
OEDC members hope the project will also be a draw for the surrounding community, in line with the town’s economic development plan.
“The comprehensive plan talks about outdoor education, educational opportunities, community development, and outdoor recreation is a big part of what’s going on,” said Sheppard. “There’s a tremendous amount of that in Orono, and this really fits with that notion.”
Bass says the renovation project is slated to cost about $175,000, which means the group will need to raise funds to cover the rest of the expenses.
They’re also searching for volunteers to prepare the buildings for renovation sometime this spring.
“In three to five years, I feel it will be quite an asset and draw to the recreational community and people outside of the greater Bangor area might come here,” Bass said.
To learn more about OEDC, visit their website HERE.