ORONO — The Maine Trails Advisory Committee of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forests recently awarded $120K to the Orono Economic Development Corporation to renovate the Taylor Bait Farm buildings in Orono and create a new, regional recreation center.

Bill Bass, treasurer for the OEDC, states the idea for the recreation center started forming in 2018 when the Taylor Bait business, lands and ponds (43 acres) in Orono were listed for sale. Subsequently, the OEDC purchased the property. In 2019, the Orono Land Trust then obtained funding to purchase from OEDC approximately 36 acres of ponds and adjacent lands. The vision of the OEDC was to build a community outdoor center that will allow hikers, bikers and skiers to easily access the diverse trail system existing in what’s known as the Caribou Bog Conservation Area and to welcome all outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the Caribou Bog Trail Center with a newly renovated and warm building.

Bass states, “Our goal from the beginning was to repurpose the building as a regional, 4-season outdoor center. It is our hope that in three to five years, the Caribou Bog Trail Center will become a recreational, social, and economic asset for the Town of Orono and the greater Bangor community.”

The award of a $120,000 U.S. Department of Transportation Recreational Trails Program grant is now the foundation for making that vision a reality.

A collaborative effort, the Town of Orono and the University of Maine also played key roles in the acquisition of the grant. However, Bass acknowledges there is still much work to be done. He states, “This is very exciting for all parties involved and brings with it the recognition of much work ahead.” The OEDC plans to launch a campaign for matching funds as well as solicit volunteers to work to prepare the buildings for renovation sometime this spring.

The Orono Economic Development Corporation is a nonprofit, 501(c)(4) corporation dedicated to the growth of business and cultural enterprise in Orono. The board of directors includes leaders from business, industry and services sectors. The University of Maine and Town government are active members of the board.