SKOWHEGAN — Town officials were criticized this week for not having a plan for relocating the high school baseball team, youth baseball leagues and other sports when construction of the new $75 million consolidated elementary school eats into the Memorial Field complex.

A handful of people attended Tuesday’s Select Board meeting to complain that teams will not have a place to play come spring 2024.

There are three baseball fields in town, one at Skowhegan Area Middle School and two at Memorial Field on Heselton Street.

But the town a couple of weeks ago sold the Memorial Field land to Maine School Administrative District 54 for $1.9 million so that the school district can build the elementary school on some of that land.

Denise LeBlanc, director of Skowhegan’s Parks and Recreation Department, said Wednesday that the complex has two ball fields, a tennis court and a playground. It is home to the Skowhegan Area High School baseball team, as well as the high school tennis team and a number of recreation leagues and youth programs, she said.

Those programs will continue to use Memorial Field this spring, she said, but when construction begins on the elementary school this summer, they will lose access to the space without an alternative lined up.


Resident Garrett Quinn expressed his concern to selectmen Tuesday.

“Beginning in 2024, it will be the first time in 70 years that we haven’t had a baseball field in Skowhegan … a full-size baseball field,” he said.

Quinn, who has coached baseball at the collegiate level including at Stetson University in Florida, said the middle school field is not appropriate for high school players, as it is a smaller size and has insufficient dugouts.

Rick York, who coaches baseball at the middle school, said that one field isn’t enough to accommodate the many teams and youth leagues that play baseball in Skowhegan.

“Everyone is going to be vying for time,” he said. “It’s a fight … you can’t practice, and you can’t be a baseball player if you can’t practice.”

LeBlanc explained Wednesday that the town is hoping to finish a project that’s been 17 years in the making — an expansion of the Skowhegan Community Center on Poulin Drive that would include multipurpose fields — in time for the spring 2024 season.


But residents expressed frustration that there aren’t even design plans yet for that project.

“We’re still absolutely nowhere and we’re still raising funds,” Quinn said. “We need the rec advisory committee in there and we needed them yesterday, that’s our contention.”

Some selectmen agreed with Quinn.

“We dropped the ball,” Selectman Charles Robbins said. “This board, this town has dropped the ball on this project.”

LeBlanc’s department still hopes the project can be completed in time, with no interruptions to the 2024 season. LeBlanc said the $1.9 million the town gained from the sale of Memorial Field provides the town the revenue to begin planning for construction.

Town Manager Christine Almand said Tuesday that with the sale of the land for the new school, the town now has $2.8 million to fund the project, and she’s hoping to secure another “large donation” within the next couple of weeks.


“Once we know how much capital we’re working with, then we’ll know how we can proceed,” Almand said.

Officials have not yet revealed the overall cost of the project but say eventually they will consult with town committees and other stakeholders to formulate a design concept and construction plan.

LeBlanc acknowledged Wednesday that finishing a construction project within the next year is ambitious.

“Right now I’m a little concerned,” she said.

Because the community center project has been in the works for well over a decade, permits and other approvals required by the state are already in place.

“We are very excited about this project and will continue to work hard so we can get this complex done in a timely manner to accommodate all,” LeBlanc said.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story