The group behind plans for a new community center in Yarmouth hope to repurpose the Casco Masonic Lodge at 20 Mill St. File

YARMOUTH — Opening a community center will cost about $3 million, according to the citizen-led group behind the effort to bring a new multi-generational gathering place to town.

To help build support for the project, the Yarmouth Community Center Steering Committee is holding a series of neighborhood meetings in every corner of Yarmouth this fall.

Barbara Horton, co-chair of the steering committee, said this week that the purpose of the neighborhood meetings, which are mostly being hosted by residents in their own homes, is to personalize the outreach, to keep people informed about progress on the project, and to generate enthusiasm.

She said, “we leave the fundraising pitch until the end because what we most want is for people to understand what’s in it for them.” Horton said the locations and times of each neighborhood meeting are only being shared by the hosts, who will provide personal invitations.

However, general information about the project can be found online at yccmaine.org, where donations can also be made.

Planning for the community center first started three years ago. This past spring the Town Council agreed to lease the site of the former Casco Masonic Lodge on Mill Street for $1 annually over a 99-year period.

The plan, Horace Horton, told The Forecaster in late May, is to not only create a community gathering spot, but also to consolidate many of Yarmouth’s social services into a centralized location. Those services include a food pantry, a medical loan closet and the town’s aging-in-place office, among others.

“Our goal is to create a hub of social services with private funding to improve the quality of life for Yarmouth citizens,” Horton said at the time.

In addition to creating a place where “Yarmouth can come together,” Barbara Horton said this week the advantage of the Mill Street location is that the community center would abut both Royal River Park and the 317 Main Community Music Center.

“Our mission is to provide a safe and welcoming environment for residents of all ages to engage with local services, educational opportunities, recreational activities and community events,” Horton said. “We want this to be a place to have fun and to maintain Yarmouth as a strong and nurturing community.”

During the neighborhood meetings, Horton said members of the steering committee describe their vision, as well as the interior layout, which, she said, will include 2,000 square feet for a multi-purpose room, a full kitchen, offices and a seating area where people can gather and get a cup of coffee or tea.

Along with the neighborhood meetings, Horton said the steering committee is also holding three breakfasts to introduce business owners and professionals working in town to plans for the community center.

Overall, Horton said, “we know we need help from the community” and while she said “interest is strong, we’re learning we need to get the word out.”

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