STANDISH — The town has created a steering committee to explore the possibility of building a community center in Standish and has hired an architectural firm to investigate how much the center would cost and what impact it would have on taxes.

Over 70% of participants in a 2019 town Parks & Recreation survey agreed or strongly agreed that Standish needs a town-supported indoor recreation/community center. Most participants strongly or moderately agreed that Standish needs a teen/youth center, indoor swimming pool, multipurpose gyms and a jogging/walking track. They also wanted after-school programs, summer day camps, group fitness programs and other activities.

Town Councilors Nov. 12 unanimously approved the creation of a Community Center Steering Committee and a feasibility study, which will be conducted by Scott Simons Architects, a Portland-based architecture firm.

There were three bids for the study, and Parks & Rec Director Jen DeRice said in an interview that Simons’ bid “checked all the points that we were looking for and was the most affordable.”

The plan will cost over $26,000. The town received a $20,000 Community Development Block Grant to offset the cost of the study, and DeRice said additional money was bonded to fund the rest.

Simons will work with the parks and rec department and the new steering committee to determine priorities and activities, hold a public forum, estimate the size, scope and cost of the project, identity three suitable locations for the center, create a preliminary cost estimate and estimate timelines for the project, among other tasks.

The firm’s schedule begins with a meeting with the Community Center Steering Committee in early December and culminates, in the week of March 30, 2020, when it will deliver the final report to the Town Council. The committee will make recommendations to the council, which will decide what, if anything, would go to voters, possibly next November.

The goal will be for (Simons) to prep a package for the council to look at next summer with the idea that the council might send something to the voters at the presidential election” in November, Town Manager Bill Giroux said in an interview last week. “We’ll see if people want it or not. If they do, we’ll have fun putting it together. But if they don’t, we’ll move on from that.”

DeRice said that the town still has a feasibility study from 2008 “that we can draw a lot of the information from, so that will help with our tight timeline.”

The economic downturn in 2008 tabled that earlier discussion about a community center.

The steering committee, which has already met once, is composed of nine volunteer members from the community and various organizations. DeRice said they will be “working alongside Scott Simons Architects to sort of be the sounding board and advise on next steps. They really orchestrate the whole process. They’ll help steer (Simons) in the right direction.”

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