I’m a member of the Mitchell Field Committee, but I’m writing this letter as an individual.
Before moving to Harpswell in 2016, I helped start a community center in a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
The town owned a school building that had not been used in years and was beginning to deteriorate. When commissioners announced they would tear it down, the community got motivated to save it.
The town government agreed to donate the $10,000 they had budgeted to tear down the structure, but it didn’t want the financial burden of creating, maintaining, operating or staffing it.
A nonprofit was formed to raise funds and, with grants, the building was refurbished. It took several years to accomplish, but the community center is now a valuable, cherished asset with multiple, year-round uses.
We have a very salvageable, unused building at Mitchell Field, next to a beach, that could be repurposed and made into something Harpswell could cherish. It is industrial-looking but its approximately 4,000 square feet, with another 2,000 square feet of garage space, could be transformed into something appealing.
Its uses would be based on what the community wanted and would support. For instance, artists may want a studio or a place to display their work. There could be shop facilities for woodworking, a sailing school, or classrooms. There could be a small commercial kitchen, an auditorium, office space for nonprofits or a library. And indoor toilets.
Recently there was a survey asking what to do with the building. The answers varied from tear it down to make use of it. The building can be saved with help from volunteers. Harpswell residents have the energy and financial resources that could easily support such a venture … if they want to.
Philip Conner, Harpswell Neck