WATERVILLE — Located along the Messalonskee Stream and nestled just a few miles from the downtown, the Quarry Road Recreation Area is a city-owned park consisting of more than 6 miles of Nordic skiing trails and additional miles for snowshoeing and hiking.

And while city officials said the trails and park get plenty of use, especially in winter, big plans for the area’s future are beginning to take shape.

The Friends of Quarry Road, a nonprofit organization that works with the city to help raise funding to support the recreation area, have contracted with the SE Group out of Burlington, Vermont, to update the master plan for the park and identify potential improvements. In a report to the City Council in late June, the friends organization said original plans for the venue, mostly trail siting, have almost been fully realized.

“Specifically, we are looking for (SE Group) to help us identify more warm-weather uses, including revenue-generating uses; to recommend ideal locations for parking areas, septic systems, etc., in order to leave room for the eventual construction of a lodge; and to help us consider whether it will be possible to restart any of the old alpine ski operation,” the report read in part.

Matt Skehan, director of Waterville’s Parks and Recreation department, said there will be meetings Tuesday and Wednesday on the development of an updated master plan. The Tuesday meeting, from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Quarry Road Maintenance Building, is a public meeting largely for gathering views on the recreation area’s future.

“We don’t want to do things people don’t want,” Skehan said. “We want to put things in that people are going to use.”

Skehan said city officials are considering more multi-season uses for the park, including more mountain biking opportunities and an all-season community center or lodge. They also want to gauge public interest in alpine skiing at the park, including snow tubing with a T-line.

“There are some real opportunities to try different things, but we want to be certain before we do something with the infrastructure,” he said.

Joe Reisert, president of Friends of Quarry Road, said members of his group have been thinking about potential improvements to the recreation area. Early plans hadn’t fully addressed what a core area of the park might look like, and had only lightly touched on where a lodge could be sited.

“We thought this was a great opportunity at the right moment to hire someone to come in, look at what we have and help us plan out the next decade of development out there,” Reisert said.

He said that in the short run, there probably will be only modest improvements, such as to the road, but the group wants a road map for the future.

“The SE Group will help us think through the feasibility of alpine operation,” Reisert said. “Whether that’s reasonable or not is something we need professional help with.”

The Wednesday meeting is for key stakeholders to meet with a planner from the SE Group, which will be followed by another public open house meeting later that night.

The recreation area currently has hiking trails, and Reisert said a mile-long stretch of trail was recently cleared for mountain biking. The trail has hilly terrain as well as flat areas for beginners. Another mile of trail may be created this summer, he said.

Other work done in the past year includes lighting for the Nordic trails, improvements to a walking and snowshoeing trail, and installation of a carry-in boat launch and dock just behind the maintenance building. In the future, canoe rentals may be offered at the boat launch, Skehan said.

Reisert said there also may be a push to hold more events there. Two events are scheduled for Tuesday – the Quarry Road Summer Race Series, which is a weekly trail-running series, and Waterville Green Drinks, a monthly networking series sponsored by KV Connect.

Reisert said having more events over the course of the year would help drive revenue not just for the park, but for the city of Waterville, including in the summer months.

“We want to get people who want to come to Waterville, spend a couple hours on the trails and have a nice meal downtown, go shopping,” Reisert said.

Another change at the park involves having the city take over oversight of the Nordic ski operation and its finances. The city already manages every other aspect of the Quarry Road Recreation Area.

In the past, the Friends of Quarry Road had collected fees for ski passes, passing some of those funds through to the city to cover overtime expenses and make direct payments to some city vendors. However, insurers for both the city and the organization thought the arrangement created unnecessary confusion and recommended the city assume skiing oversight responsibilities.

Colin Ellis can be contacted at 861-9253 or at:

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