WATERVILLE — Located along the Messalonskee Stream and nestled just a few miles from the downtown area, the Quarry Road Recreation Area is a city-owned park consisting of more than 6 miles of Nordic skiing trails and additional miles for snowshoeing and hiking.

And while city officials said the trails and park are often frequented, especially in the winter, big plans for the area’s future are beginning to take shape.

The Friends of Quarry Road, a nonprofit organization that works with the city to help raise funding to support the recreation area, have contracted with the SE Group out of Burlington, Vermont, to update the master plan for the area. In a report to the City Council from late June, the organization said original planning work for the venue was primarily focused on siting trails, and the original trail plans have almost been fully realized. The SE Group was brought in to help the Friends make a plan for further development of the facility in ways to benefit the community.

“Specifically, we are looking for them to help us identify more warm-weather uses, including revenue-generating uses; to recommend ideal locations for parking areas, septic systems, etc., in order to leave room for the eventual construction of a lodge; to help us consider whether it will be possible to re-start any of the old Alpine ski operation,” the memo read in part.

Matt Skehan, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation department, said there will be meetings on the development of a new master plan on Wednesday. A public meeting is scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Quarry Road Maintenance Building, which will largely be for public input on what should be part of the future of the park and public support for the project, Skehan said.

“We don’t want to do things people don’t want,” Skehan said. “We want to put things in that people are going to use.”

Skehan said they’re looking at more multi-season uses for the recreation area. In the winter, instead of just Nordic skiing, Skehan said they hoped to look at more Alpine skiing uses, the ability to offer snow tubing with a lift. He said they may look at more mountain biking opportunities, as well as a community center to be used all seasons.

“There are some real opportunities to try different things, but we want to be certain before we do something with the infrastructure,” he said.

Joe Reisert, president of Friends of Quarry Road, said the organization has been thinking about the final improvements to make to the area. Early plans hadn’t fully addressed what a core area of the park might look like and had only lightly touched on where a lodge could be sited.

“We thought this was a great opportunity at the right moment to hire someone to come in, look at what we have and help us plan out the next decade of development out there,” Reisert said.

Reisert said in the short run, there will probably only be modest improvements, such as to the road, but they want a road map for the future.

“The SE Group will help us think through the feasibility of alpine operation,” Reisert said. “Whether that’s reasonable or not is something we need professional help with.”

At noon on Wednesday at the Quarry Road Welcome Center Yurt, stakeholders will meet with a planner from the SE Group.

The Wednesday meeting is for key stakeholders to meet with a planner from the SE Group. “The purpose is to find out what do people want to see out there, what improvements would be most valuable, what would have the biggest impact on the community,” Reisert said.

While they have improved Alpine skiing in mind as a potential use for the park, Reisert said they want to know if that’s something many people would be interested in or just a few. Another goal Reisert said he has is to identify more summer uses for the recreation area. There are currently hiking trails, and he said they recently finished clearing a mile-long stretch of trail for mountain biking. Skehan said the trail is fantastic with up and down terrain, but also flat areas for beginners. He said they hope to put in another mile of trail this summer.

Other recent improvements to the area include lighting for Nordic trails. Last fall, another mile of mountain biking trails was cut. A walking and snowshoeing trail was improved last year. The Susan Childs Boat Launch, a carry-in boat launch and dock, located just behind the maintenance building, was made last year. Skehan said in the future they hope to potentially offer canoe rentals for the boat launch.

Reisert said they’d also like to see more events in the area. On Tuesday, there are two events at the park, the Quarry Road Summer Race Series, which is a weekly trail running series, and Waterville Green Drinks, a monthly networking series sponsored by KV Connect.

By having more events over the course of the year, Reisert said that would help drive revenue not just for the park, but for the city of Waterville. While Nordic skiing is a big operation, the new task is figuring out how to leverage the facilities to create a bigger draw in the summer months.

“We want to get people who want to come to Waterville, spend a couple hours on the trails and have a nice meal downtown, go shopping,” Reisert said.

Plans for park development are not the only new development for the park. Under a new model for financial operation of the ski operation, the city will entirely manage those operations. Waterville already manages every other aspect of the Quarry Road Recreation Area.

In the past, the Friends had collected fees for ski passes, passing some of those funds through to the city to cover overtime expenses and make direct payment to some city vendors. However, insurers for both the city and organization thought the arrangement created unnecessary confusion, and recommended an action to consolidate both financial and operational control with the city.

Skehan said this arrangement is pretty much the same as it was before, and it’s just formalizing things a bit more.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

cellis@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @colinoellis