October 13, 2010

Docks to Doorways celebrates fundraising effort

Groundbreaking at Maine Lakes Resource Center

BELGRADE LAKES -- Major, and not so major, contributors were honored Tuesday at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Maine Lakes Resource Center.

click image to enlarge

Tom Klingenstein, left, chairman of the Docks to Doorway steering committee, greets John Witherspoon, president of Skowhegan Savings Bank, and other contributors at the future site of the Maine Lakes Resource Center in Belgrade Lakes on Tuesday.

Staff photo by David Leaming

Construction of the 3,500-square-foot project in the village of Belgrade Lakes will be the first phase of a project that includes plans for a new community park adjacent to the post office; and restoration of public docks and a boathouse for the historic mail boat made famous by the movie "On Golden Pond."

Tom Klingenstein, chairman of the Docks to Doorways steering committee, commended Addy Seeman, a 12-year-old Belgrade fourth-grader, for raising $700 for the project.

"There were so many gifts, it's hard to label one gift extraordinary," Klingenstein said. "The one I called out is a fourth-generation summer resident, Addy Seeman. She baked cookies every week this summer and sold them at the farmers market."

About 50 people attended Tuesday's ceremony on Main Street. Construction on the resource center will begin this month.

Klingenstein thanked several businesses that made significant contributions: Hammond Lumber, Kennebec Savings Bank, Gagne & Son, Skowhegan Savings Bank, CO Beck & Sons Roofing, Thayer Engineering and Summertime in the Belgrades.

He said the "overwhelming" community response has brought the campaign 98 percent of the way toward the $2.5 million fundraising goal, he said.

Since the campaign was launched three months ago, Klingenstein said there were 461 new donors and $481,176 in new gifts. In all, a total of $2,446,105 has been raised from 696 donors.

Klingenstein also thanked the Harold Alfond Foundation for its $450,000 challenge grant to inspire other people to contribute.

"We think the resource center will do wonderful things for the economy of the village," he said. "We want to make this the center of the town.

"The major issue is conservation. What we're trying to do, at the end of the day, is preserve the lakes. And get homeowners to adopt best conservation practices. To do that, they need to be informed."

Polly Beatie, president of the Belgrade Lakes Association, said joining with Colby College and other lake and conservation associations is a collaboration far beyond anything anyone could imagine.

"I'm so excited about this day . . ." Beatie said. "We today are striving to educate members (of the community) about the care of the lakes."

Colby College President "Bro" Adams said the project will amplify and extend the work Colby students and staff have been doing on the lakes for the past decade.

"We need to educate people in the ways we need to conserve this incredible resource," Adams said. "Education is the fundamental aspect of this project."

Shops and restaurants also will benefit from the increased business from the new public docks. Diane Oliver, owner of Day's Store, said, "This is good for the town. It's good for the village. And good for the lake community."

Kelly Frost of CCS Consulting, a firm that provides fundraising consulting services, said the project on paper seemed overwhelming to some.

"But when you see people who care about it and are devoted to achieving the goal, the collaboration, the working together for that shared vision, and then see them achieving it together, that's something that happens in our state time and time again," Frost said.

Mechele Cooper -- 623-3811, ext. 408

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