The Long Lake rowing crew are beginning their efforts to discuss a private/public partnership with the City of Orono in order to build a permanent home for their club and equipment. The Orono Parks Commission heard the rowing crew’s proposal during their Nov. 4 meeting.

The Long Lake Rowing Crew proposed a partnership with the city to construct and maintain a “neighborhood rowing facility with updated park amenities at Summit Park.” The facility would include a park pavilion with toilet facilities, outdoor patio space with picnic tables, a small playground, a two story rowing crew boathouse with storage for boats, a gathering room, offices, locker rooms and dock amenities for the beach and boathouse.

According to Lisa McCarty, a Long Lake Rowing Crew board member, the facility is currently storing approximately $200,000 worth of equipment at Birch’s on the Lake but are looking for a better solution to their storage needs.

The proposal also includes a parking lot with 24 spaces and the option to create more in the future, the 9,000-square-foot boathouse to be built on the hill side and to also incorporate the city’s plans for walking paths and trails as well as “to have a minimal impact in the design of this park. Trying to utilize the existing attributes as we can.”

A key need will be dock access to launch various rowing shells, which requires a dock length that allows multiple sizes of rowing shells to be launched correctly. The idea presented is to utilize the beach and swim area with a series of docks while also protecting it from ongoing boat activity. A secondary dock would also need to be on sight for a safety boat. How the docks will be set-up is still something staff are exploring.

The plans for the proposal do not currently include every detail; however, they are looking at programs for every season or a potential ice rink. Residents who live close to Summit Beach also attended the meeting and shared their comments and concerns with the rowing crew.

Public opinions expressed to the park commission and the rowing crew included concerns about the safety of having rowers so close to a popular swimming beach, the environmental impact, how the boathouse would obstruct the view of the lake, how it would affect property values as well as the overall use of the popular spot.

The Long Lake rowing crew responded to the community’s concerns. They said their goal is to find a home for their equipment, to make rowing safer for their participants and to offer a space for the community. They also added they will fundraise to cover their costs of the project.

The Orono Park Commission expressed that during their discussion they have the same concerns as the residents who spoke during the meeting as well as other issues including security and the future improvements to Long Lake. The commission decided they are not ready to make a recommendation to the planning commission and the city council, but will have a second workshop with the rowing crew to address the comments.

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