Focused Discussion #2: Recreation, Sports and Entertainment

The Comprehensive Plan Committee and the Heart & Soul Trustees hosted a focused discussion on April 25th to solicit ideas for what the community and City can do to use the City’s assets for community health and wellness. The discussion was held at the Boys and Girls Club and was attended by approximately 30-35 people, some of whom have been active in the H&S process. The event opened with brief overviews of the purpose of the focused discussion and the H&S process including the draft Community Vision. This was followed by a short presentation on the City’s current recreation and entertainment assets. Participants were then asked to share their ideas for what the City and community can do to make Gardiner a better place focusing on recreation, sports, and entertainment including the arts and cultural activities. People’s ideas and comments were recorded on a flip chart and are transcribed below – in a few cases suggestions about similar topics have been grouped together (I.E. ice rink):

April 25, 2013
  • The following ideas were presented as a result of discussions with teens:
    • Hold public dances (in addition to those held at the High School)
    • Have a pool hall with an arcade
    • Develop a skate board park (with youth involved in the planning and operation of the facility)
    • Have a teen center (it was noted there are some teen activities at the Boys and Girls Club)
    • Open a coffee shop for teens
  • Establish an after school visual arts program for teens (It was noted that such a program is being developed and should be running in the fall)
  • Have a teen drop-in center at Johnson Hall (again this in planning)
  • The library already is a recreation resource with a variety of activities but it needs help getting the word out
  • Continue to pursue the creative economy as an engine of downtown development
    • Regular art walks
    • More galleries
    • Additional restaurants (progress is being made)
  • There is a need to maintain the momentum that has been developing – need more volunteers for activities – possibility of a central volunteer pool rather than each group finding its own volunteers
  • Need to know what we already have so we can tell people about things – both in the community and people from away
  • How can the Boys and Girls Club be better utilized as a community center – currently closes at 5:30 PM so is not available in the evenings
  • How do we get young adults to “hang out” in Gardiner?
    • Need a way for 20-30 something’s to meet
    • Informal young adult leagues – kickball – volleyball
    • Need a communication vehicle so people can find out what is going on
  • Need more live music in Gardiner – have to go to Hallowell now for this
  • There should be a “fountain park” – a splash place for kids
  • Should be weekly outdoor concerts in the evening – Downtown or the waterfront
  • Problem with not being able to use Quimby Field for scheduled activities on Sunday – limits the ability to accommodate tournaments in Gardiner (limit is the result of conditions on the grant of the property to the City)
  • Problem with excessive use of sports fields – there is a need for better coordination of use especially to accommodate new, “non-traditional” activities such as ultimate Frisbee
  • Need for less competitive leagues for adults – older folks – less talented people – create opportunities for lifelong activity
  • The Sportsman’s Club fields are not shown on the map of existing recreation facilities – should be included
  • Consider possibility of a Saturday market – would attract a different group of people – could be a farmer’s market or also include artisans, local food producers, etc.
  • Provide a space for the start-up of “micro industries” in community space
  • Should have community gardens available – Caring Community Gardens has made some extra space available in the past and is a possible link
  • Need wider range of sports facilities – possibly in a concentrated location:
    • Tennis courts (former GATA)
    • Beach volleyball courts
    • Basketball
  • Need to get school staff members involved in recreation
  • Nice to have a local driving range, mini-golf course, batting cages
  • Need for more winter recreation activities
    • Ice rink on the waterfront was great but need another one – kids want more ice – need a better location for the rink
    • Trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing
    • A winter carnival
  • Should use the new Parks and Recreation Committee to coordinate activities
  • Parks and Recreation Committee could work with volunteers that are interested in special areas
  • Should have a “dog park”
  • Consider possibility of lighting sports facilities for night-time use
  • Develop trails along the Cobbossee
  • Start a bike share program
  • Need to make better use of open spaces and the waterfront – Things that draw people there:
    • Rental boats
    • Dances
    • Movies
  • Need to establish a “think tank” of people who are interested in volunteering to help groups that need volunteers
  • Need a big picture perspective – objective should be to make Gardiner the most child friendly (birth to age 20) community in Maine – this will attract people to live here – should include the larger region and involve creative partnerships
  • Need a place to swim
  • Cultivate informal sports activities
  • Johnson Hall is underutilized – what can it be used for?
  • Need to figure out how to maximize the use of the amazing assets in this area
  • Extend the rail trail downstream of Downtown – publicize RT 24 trail
  • Need to pool resources – better communication and coordination among groups
  • Need better information about events that are occurring:
    • Informational signage
    • A list serve
  • The Volks March during the bicentennial was very successful – tour with historical markers brought people from all over
  • Look at City owned land to see if anything is available for more facilities/use
  • Consider a service learning project for teenagers/high school students to develop and operate a coffee shop