An artist’s rendering of the proposed PAL Community Center on Chestnut Street in Auburn. City of Auburn illustration

Plans to build a community center, fire station, outdoor pavilion and riverwalk extension received major financial support in the Senate Appropriations Committee’s funding package released Thursday.

The package includes $3 million to help construct a new Auburn PAL Community Center, $1 million to help build a new fire substation on Lisbon Street in Lewiston, $925,000 to support the construction of a pavilion at the YMCA of Auburn-Lewiston’s Outdoor Learning & Education Center and $979,000 to extend the Lewiston Canal and Riverwalk.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican and one of the most senior members of the panel, said in a press release that she secured the funding.

The spending package has yet to win the support of the House or Senate, but typically Senate committee budget items are approved.

Collins said she will champion the funding as the appropriations process moves ahead.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks in May during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the fiscal year 2023 budget. Associated Press file

Collins’ office said the riverwalk money will be used “to link the New Auburn Village Center and Lewiston’s Little Canada neighborhood,” as recommended in Lewiston’s 2012 Riverfront Island Master Plan.


The new section of trail would likely help with the redevelopment of the 650,000-square-foot Continental Mill and improve connections for downtown residents.

“The Lewiston Canal and Riverwalk has been a key piece of the city’s revitalization and provides an excellent opportunity for local residents and visitors to enjoy the beauty of the Androscoggin River,” Collins said in a prepared statement.

“By extending this path,” she said, “this funding would build on this success and provide more transportation and recreational opportunities in the city. “

On Thursday afternoon, Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline showed support for financial investment in the projects.

“If we want to move Lewiston forward, we need to continue to develop our downtown and this investment in the Riverwalk is critical to making our riverfront a more appealing place to visit and spend time,” he said.

“I’m grateful for Senator Collins’ continued advocacy for Lewiston,” Sheline added. “The Lisbon Street fire station is well beyond its useful life and I’m glad it’s slated for replacement.”


The PAL Center appropriation would help make Auburn’s $8.6 million plan to construct a new facility on Chestnut Street a reality.

Collins said the $3 million for the center is included in the Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee’s budget. She is the subcommittee’s top Republican.

“This funding would allow the center to build on its success and expand its programming to serve even more children in the surrounding neighborhood,” Collins said.

The proposed building would offer an early childhood education and child care program, a health center, a teen center, a gym and a commercial kitchen and food pantry.

“I’m ecstatic. I’m actually smiling right now. It’s great news,” Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque said. “It’s probably going to make the biggest difference in the underserved youth population than anything else.”

City officials are weighing the possibility of adding an indoor pool as well.


“Yes, we have been discussing adding a swimming pool,” Levesque said. “The Sun Journal article about the large number of drownings in the Androscoggin was really eye-opening to me.”

Levesque added, “I really have to say thank you to Senator Collins. The working relationship that our staff has with hers is phenomenal. She is really serving Auburn in a tangible way.”

The $925,000 for the YMCA’s all-weather pavilion would create a year-round, multi-use space for public, private and civic use at the YMCA of Auburn-Lewiston’s 95-acre Outdoor Learning & Education Center in Auburn.

Collins’ office said the pavilion “would increase child care and school-age programming by adding up to 142 additional year-round school-age slots per day to current YMCA programming.”

“In addition, this space would allow the Y to better utilize ‘rainy day’ spaces at its Turner Street location, which provides the opportunity to expand programming to an additional 70 participants per day. This capacity expansion is equivalent to three full-time large centers opening in the local area,” according to Collins’ office.

“That money is going into our $1.4 million project to build an all-weather outdoor pavilion,” which will allow the nonprofit to expand its summer camp and before-and-after school care programs during the year, Steve Wallace, CEO of the Auburn-Lewiston YMCA, said Thursday. “We’ll be able to hold special activities for kids like archery, hiking, and during the winter we can have snowshoeing trails.”

Wallace noted that about $400,000 still needs to be raised to complete the project fully.

“The money from Senator Collins and an anonymous gift gets this project going,” he said, “but we still will need to finish the project by adding fencing around the area and around the playground.

“We really appreciate that Susan Collins is supporting the ever-increasing need for child care,” Wallace added. “It’s going to almost triple our summer camp and before-and-after care programs. Not only are we excited for ourselves, but we’re also excited for the community. This space will be able to help so many other great groups in the area who can share this resource.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.