The COVID-19 pandemic has heavily restricted people’s ability to see and connect with other people. However, exploring the outdoors is still an opportunity that many have been able to take advantage of. One of the most attractive aspects of Maine is the vast beauty of its environment. The town of Orono is now working to create a central hub for people to gather and appreciate the beauty this town has to offer. Plans have begun for the town to construct a volunteer-based outdoor recreation center which will host activities that encourage people to appreciate and explore the nature in the town. The town has purchased 7 acres of land for the project, enough for a central building and parking lot.
The Orono Economic Development Corporation founded this project. The property is located on Taylor Road in Orono, sitting next to both the Orono and Bangor Trust trail systems. The property was purchased in 2018, but only now are plans for renovation finally coming to fruition. The Orono Land Trust also purchased nearby ponds in order to better expand the area, making it a more attractive stop for hikers, bikers, and bird-watchers. The center will be extremely beneficial for students as well giving them opportunities to explore the outdoors, socialize with friends, and give back to the community through volunteer positions.
“I’m pretty involved in the community with volunteer work so even if I weren’t going to participate in using the facility, it would be awesome to work as a volunteer for it,” third-year elementary education student Madeline Hanlon said about the new facility. “Especially with everything being shut down with [COVID-19], myself and other students are always looking for more recreational activities especially ones that get you active.”
Fundraising events for the facility are going to begin soon, and the town will be looking for as much support as possible to get it done. The Town will also be looking for volunteers to help gut the property in order to get it ready for renovations. The new rec center has the potential to be a strong asset for the town which will better show off the nature that surrounds us. Though, there are residents that want to make sure that the land is preserved properly, and not neglected.
“I want the town to make sure that the land is preserved in an environmentally friendly way so that the most people can get the most out of it,” third-year psychology student Chloe Lunt said.
Students looking to volunteer will have to wait until later in the fall for the opportunity, as COVID-19 has temporarily put a hold on the project. Students or community members looking for more information on the project should contact the Orono Economic Development Corporation for more information. Outdoor recreation and physical activities are core focuses of the University of Maine and the surrounding community. So the opportunity to expand opportunities to do so will likely be looked on favorably.