Greenville : Education and Visitor Center Grant AwardedJuly 30, 2009 - TRC The Town of Greenville has received a $253,000 grant to construct a Natural Resource Education and Visitor Center along Route 15 next to the Maine DOT Rest Area.The grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Enterprise Program was one of 145 funded nationally, and the tenth largest grant, using monies from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The grant was submitted for Greenville, the Natural Resource Education Center (NREC) and the Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce by the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council.According to Dr. Kenneth B. Woodbury, Jr., Community Development Specialist for the PCEDC, the grant will allow NREC to construct a 2,472 square foot center as a headquarters for NREC's educational programs and services as well as serve as the area’s Visitor Center operated by the Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce.The site for the Natural Resource Education and Visitor Center combines 17.72 acres owned by NREC along Route 15 with 3.07 acres owned by the Town of Greenville. The Maine DOT has offered to donate its 4.6 acre Rest Area to the project to create a 25 acre visitor gateway to the Moosehead Lake region.Space in the new facility will also be available to other tenants, such as non-profit agencies, to help defray the annual operating expenses. The new gateway education and visitor center will bolster area tourism, stimulate job retention and creation, and help make the area a major destination for in-state as well and out-of-state visitors encouraging them to extend their stay in the Moosehead Lake region.The Natural Resource Education Center currently operates out of a rented store front in downtown Greenville offering a wide variety of nature-based programs and services to residents and visitors. During 2005-07, 1,021 children participated in NREC’s Maine Woods Explorer Program. Its adult programs registered 468 participants.The Visitor Center, operated by the Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce in part of an older building off Route 15, counted over 24,000 individuals accessing the Visitor Center. The new gateway Visitor Center will offer ADA compliant facilities to make the new Visitor Center better able to accommodate the visiting public.The grant must first be approved by the Greenville Board of Selectmen. Construction can begin as soon as the project is agreed to by the Selectmen and contracts are signed with the United States Department of Agriculture.The facility is to be built at the southern terminus of the Seboomook Scenic Byway that ends in Jackman. A planning grant is pending to fund the work of the Seboomook Scenic Byway Corridor Advisory Committee that will plan what improvements are needed along the Byway to make it more attractive with improved facilities for visitors, such as scenic overlooks, signage, and rest facilities. A prototype of the Natural Resource Education and Visitor Center is pictured with this article. The actual building design will be determined by NCEC, the Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Greenville.NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.