September 29, 2011

Quarry Road Recreation Area gets another big boost

Colby College, Alfond Foundation give almost $500,000

By Amy Calder
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE -- Major donations from Colby College and the Harold Alfond Foundation will help make Quarry Road Recreation Area one of the best of its kind in the northeast.

Major cash donations to Quarry Road

$385,000 - Harold Alfond Foundation
$225,000 - Colby College
$85,000 - Anonymous
$30,000 - RTP Trails Grant
$25,000 - Inland Hospital
$10,000 - Kennebec Savings Bank
$10,000 - John Koons
$5,000 - MaineGeneral Health

That was the word Wednesday from city officials and recreation advocates who announced that Colby is donating $100,000 and the Alfond Foundation $385,000 to the four-season recreation area.

The $100,000 will help add more than 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) to a 5K trail at the city-owned site, making it a competition-level cross-country ski trail.

The $385,000 will allow for the purchase of snow-making equipment, officials said.

"With snow-making equipment, this will be one of the finest Nordic areas in the northeast -- no question about it," said John Koons, who spearheaded development of the recreation area and has donated money, land and labor to the site.

The 200-plus-acre site along Messalonskee Stream includes trails for hiking, walking, biking, running, skiing and snow shoeing.

City Manager Michael Roy said more than $915,000 has been raised in private money for the project, with about a third of the contributions coming from Colby College.

Previous major donations include $125,000 from Colby, land worth $100,000 from Colby and an anonymous donor; $85,000 from an anonymous donor; $30,000 from a state RTP Trails Grant; $25,000 from Inland Hospital; $10,000 from Kennebec Savings Bank; $10,000 from Koons; and $5,000 from MaineGeneral Health.

Colby President William Adams said Wednesday that Colby recognizes that Quarry Road is attractive as a recreational area for Waterville and the region; it has economic development potential and it is attractive as a site for Colby's Nordic ski program. Colby competes in the Division I level for both alpine (downhill) and Nordic (cross country) skiing. Colby's competitors include Dartmouth, Middlebury, Williams, St. Lawrence, Bates and Bowdoin colleges, as well as the University of Vermont and University of New Hampshire.

"I think it's a great thing and we've got to execute it well and make it work," Adams said. "I think it's a great thing for young people in Waterville and it'll be great for us. I think we will have the best Nordic facility of any college in the northeast."

The City Council on Tuesday will be asked to accept the donations from Colby and the Alfond Foundation. Colby pledged to donate the $100,000 over a 3-year period. The council will also be asked to front that $100,000 now so the trail can be built before winter, and Colby will pay it back in three years.

Roy, Koons, Recreation Director Matt Skehan and Friends of Quarry Road applied to the Harold Alfond Foundation for the $385,000 grant.

Roy, Koons, Skehan and Mayor Dana Sennett met Wednesday at City Hall to discuss the project. Sennett noted that when the recreation area was first proposed, residents were concerned that it would use taxpayer money. Colby, he said, has committed to the $100,000 grant in writing.

The city bought about 100 acres from Colby in 2007, using $125,000 from the sale of the former Jade Island Restaurant building for the purchase. Colby sold the Quarry Road property for about $50,000 less than its value, according to Adams and Roy.

Because the federal government had helped the city buy the Pine Ridge Golf Course and building (which later was leased to Jade Island) on West River Road in 1968, it required the city to use money from the proceeds of the restaurant sale in 2007 for a recreation property of equal value.

Koons, a local dentist, is an avid skier and came forward with a vision for a multipurpose recreation area at Quarry Road. An adjoining 10-acre parcel was bought from the heirs of Lewis Rosenthal. Nationally renowned trail designer John Morton designed a multipurpose trail network there.

Koons and the city raised money, with the city pledging $20,000 from reserve funds. Other donations were accepted, including 5.5 acres from Steve and Cindy Eccher. Maine Winter Sports contributed to the effort and the Central Maine Ski Club was formed. The recreation area opened in the winter of 2008-09.

In 2009, Comprehensive Land Technologies removed trees and Applied Forestry built a 4.5k trail. The access road was built and improved. The city accepted a 90-acre gift from Colby.

Koons said officials must raise money for lighting, as well as maintenance and community buildings at the site.

"A carry-in kayak, canoe boat launch is planned in the near future," Koons said.

Amy Calder -- 861-9247


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