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Updated: January 16, 2024

Auburn prepares to break ground on $9M community center, run by police league

rendering of building with people Courtesy / Woodard & Curran, Simons Architects The Auburn Police Activities League Community Center, expected to break ground in May, will be five times larger than the existing center.

The city of Auburn expects to break ground this May on a $9 million community center run by the city’s Police Activities League.

The project includes demolition of an existing center at 24 Chestnut St. that opened in 2013.

“The Auburn PAL Center has been very successful and has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on the neighborhood,” said Phil Crowell, Auburn’s city manager. “But the need for an enhanced, expanded facility has become apparent.”

At-risk youth

The Auburn Police Activities League was established by the city's police force in 2013, after a department analysis found that many crimes by and against young people occurred within an area of less than half a square mile.

The department launched the league in an effort to provide positive, horizon-broadening experiences for at-risk youth. Since then, the center has provided healthy meals, learning and athletic activities for children after school and during the summer months. The center now serves 30 to 50 children each day, providing a safe place for them to spend time and interact with police and other adults.

The city’s “grab and go” grocery program, which began during the pandemic, is also based at the center. The program provides groceries for approximately 250 Auburn households each week. And a youth mentorship program at the center matches community volunteers with at-risk youth with the goal of introducing them to important life skills.

5 times larger

The new center will have 14,651 square feet of space, nearly five times larger than the existing center. The new, one-story structure will include a basketball court and teen room; multipurpose, meeting and storage rooms; bathrooms and showers; and a commercial kitchen.

The city and the league’s board of directors have secured funding for the building. The money includes $3 million from Auburn's share of federal American Rescue Plan funds, matched by a federal spending plan secured by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. The Auburn City Council also approved $1.5 million in bonds and allocated $1.5 million from the city’s undesignated fund balance.

The league’s board of directors is looking to partner with local sponsors to raise additional money for equipment, furniture, supplies and programming. The plan’s site work includes utility improvements, transportation and pedestrian improvements along Chestnut Street, a playground, parking lot and community gardens.

Woodard & Curran in Portland and Simons Architects in Portland are the engineer and architect, and the general contractor is Landry/French Construction in Scarborough.

“This new PAL center will be a transformative place for our community, increasing our positive impact on kids and families,” said Crowell.

With the groundbreaking scheduled for May, the league’s programs will temporarily relocate to the Auburn Recreation Department in April. The goal is to open the new center in August 2025.

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