Future of the Hutchinson Center Steering Committee submits proposal to UMaine

Wed, 02/07/2024 - 10:30am

    On Feb. 5, the Belfast-based Future of the Hutchinson Center Steering Committee submitted a proposal to the University of Maine in response to UMaine’s Request for Proposals.

    UMaine issued its RFP on January 17 with a submittal deadline of Monday, February 5. On Friday, February 2, UMaine issued an addendum that delayed the submittal deadline to March 29 “in response to community feedback.” The Committee did not request that the deadline be extended, according to a news release from the Committee.  

    The Committee’s proposal, made in partnership with the City of Belfast, includes this summary: 

    “We propose that the University of Maine commit to working with the Future of the Hutchinson Center Steering Committee and the City of Belfast to find a mutually acceptable means of transferring ownership of the Hutchinson Center to the local community. This is the best solution for the citizens of Belfast and Mid-Coast Maine and particularly, we believe, for the University.” In addition to relieving itself from the ongoing operational and maintenance costs of ownership, UMaine would preserve the opportunity for higher education at the Center in the future on a lease basis. 

    Judy Stein, Chair of the Committee, explained that “waiting two more months for UMaine to provide relevant information and begin discussion is unnecessary, since that could occur now. The building is sitting idle.” Committee member Shane Flynn added, “the Committee and the community, based on petition comments, are frustrated by the University’s lack of substantive engagement and the extended timelines. The community, which contributed so much to the creation of the Hutchinson Center, deserves to see a sustainable future for the Center, and that necessitates immediate transfer to the community.”

    NOTE: The public petition issued just over a week ago regarding transfer of ownership from UMaine to the local community has received over 1,000 positive responses through February 1 and many individual supporting comments. Over 100 different towns  and cities have been represented from the Midcoast region and elsewhere in the responses. The petition remains available for citizens who have not yet done so to register their support and make comment by sending an email to http://petition@moosemail.net.