BATH — Just two years after its founding, the Midcoast Community Alliance is looking to take a bold step forward — the creation of a teen resource center at the current Bath Youth Meetinghouse and Skatepark.

Planning is still in the earliest stages, but Dorr said the proposal would have the Midcoast Community Alliance take over the skatepark building, transforming it into a teen center. The skatepark still be there, but the second floor and basement would be renovated, with the tentative name Anchor Point Youth.

The center could provide help with homework, access to volunteer pediatric doctors once a week, encourage teens to stay active, organize fun events and create an overall positive environment for teens to stay in. The center would be staffed, with at least one “community navigator” available to help teens and families find the resources they need, Dorr said.

JAMIE DORR is the president of the Bath Youth Meetinghouse & Skate Park and president of the Midcoast Community Alliance. (Nathan Strout / The Times Record)

The new resource center would be based in part on the Tree Street Youth Center in Lewiston, which was founded in 2011. The Tree Street Youth Center was originally launched as an after-school space for students where they would have access to help with homework. Over the years, that organization has developed into a full resource center with multiple staff members and programming for students.

For Dorr, the teen center would fulfill the promise of what the Bath Youth Meetinghouse and Skatepark could have been.

While the skatepark was meant to serve as a safe space for teens to hang out in, it’s floundered over the years, said Dorr. According to Dorr, who also serves as president of that organization, the skatepark has had a poor reputation in the community. With a lack of funding and limited adult supervision, the Meetinghouse only serves a small portion of the students that need a place to be after school.

Even though the space offers Wi-Fi, computers, board games and more, it doesn’t offer resources and programming like the Tree Street Youth Center. The Midcoast Community Alliance hopes to change that.

The alliance was founded with the mission of creating a suicide-free community in Bath, but in its two years of its existence it’s evolved to be much more than that. Realizing that suicide is just one part of the larger issue of mental health, the group expanded its focus to destigmatizing mental health struggles. Bringing together service providers, community members, government representatives and school officials, the alliance quickly became a clearinghouse for mental health services.

The organization established its own activities, such as planting hope gardens near area schools and hosting You Matter events, where community members give students encouragement as they head to school in the morning.

Over the summer, the group officially gained nonprofit status, and Dorr, who was the leading proponent of forming the group, was named president.

Dorr said that it was too early to estimate how much it would cost to launch the new teen center and run it. Noting that the Tree Street Youth Center runs on a $700,000 budget. Bath Police Chief Mike Field, who’s an active participant in Midcoast Community Alliance, said that the Bath teen center would likely cost significantly less than that since it covers a smaller population and wouldn’t start out with the same level of programming as Tree Street Youth Center.

Under the proposal, the teen center would absorb the Bath Youth Skatepark and Meetinghouse, which currently operates on a budget of about $100,000, said Dorr. The city currently covers the cost of the skatepark, she added, while the Bath Youth Skatepark and Meetinghouse nonprofit fundraises to help support it.

It’s too early to know whether the city will ultimately support the creation of the teen center at the skatepark, and if they do it’s not guaranteed that they’ll continue funding at the same level as they do currently. City Manager Peter Owen said that he had discussed the idea with Dorr and was open to entertaining a proposal and discussing its merits.

At a meeting Tuesday where Dorr pitched the idea, all the alliance members present expressed support for the idea. Dorr said she hoped to have a proposal before the city in January.

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