For many years, the State of Maine farmed the area located on the east side of Hospital Street. This large tract of land containing over 200 acres was used to provide hay, grow corn and other crops and raise pigs for consumption by the patients and staff at Augusta Mental Institute. This use was ended in the late 60’s and the land was transferred to the Dept. of Conservation to be managed by the Bureau of Public Lands.
Since the late 50’s, Augusta East Little League occupied a small portion of this property for use by its Little League program. A regulation little league field and adjoining farm league field had been constructed. Baseball was very popular during this period and need for additional facilities became paramount.
A recommendation by a legislative study group to sell this large tract of land for commercial or industrial use prompted a group of Augusta East Little League officials to set in motion the formation of a group of individuals interested in providing needed recreational opportunities for the youth of the greater Augusta area.
Incorporation was accomplished in 1974 and the Capitol Area Recreation Association became a reality. With the help of Senator Bennett Katz of Augusta, legislation was passed allowing the Bureau of Public Lands the authority to enter into lease agreements with private, non-profit enterprises. A 25 year lease was signed and in later years, this lease was renegotiated. At present, CARA has a 99 year lease for approximately 80 acres of land located on the northwest side of Piggery Road.
The first project undertaken was construction of a new little league field. This was followed by construction of two regulation size baseball fields, two softball fields, a professional horseshoe pitching complex, a large multi-purpose field, three Olympic size soccer fields, two outdoor basketball courts, a little league t-ball field and a softball practice field. In conjunction with these major improvements considerable infrastructure was added in the form of dugouts, batting cages, bullpens, press boxes, lighting, seating, fencing, concession areas, electronic scoreboards, and needed parking. Some fields have in-ground irrigation and drainage has been improved where necessary. The access road has been upgraded and is presently paved. Power has been extended and is now available throughout the entire complex.
Many visitors to the CARA complex are under the impression the complex was built and is maintained by Augusta City staff. This is not the case and is probably what makes the CARA complex so unique when compared to other recreation complexes in state and out of state. The complex utilizes no public funds in on-going maintenance and a very small amount of taxpayer dollars have been used over the past four decades in construction. Small businesses, lending institutions, contractors, and private donors have assisted over the years but volunteers have been and are the primary reason this complex is so unique.
CARA’s initial board was comprised of representatives from various youth organizations and members at large, a practice that continues to this day.
CARA’s Presidents since CARA’s start:
William Perry, served from 1974-1978
Dennis Towle, served from 1979-1982
Gary Sawyer, served from 1983-October, 1985
Joe Linscott, served from October, 1985-1994
Gary Burns, served from 1995-2005
Paul Potvin, served from 2005-2016
Mark O’Brien, serving from 2016 forward
Chronology of Events
Events have occurred over time and individual and organizational initiatives have been realized. Working with the Bureau of Public Lands, the CARA Board and individuals associated with its growing list of sub-lessees have forged working relationships with local contractors, the Maine National Guard, the City of Augusta, and several financial benefactors to carry out multiple projects.
Below, brief descriptions are provided dependent upon the approximate period of activity.
1974: Capital Area Reacreation Association incorporated as a non-profit entity.
1976: Augusta East Little League starts construction of a new major little league field, parking area, and upgrading of its farm league field. Access road constructed from Piggery Road to new facility.
CARA enters into a twenty-five year lease with the Bureau of Public Lands for 80 acres of land located north of Piggery Road and east of Hospital Street
1978: Preliminary plans developed and construction begins on Augusta Babe Ruth complex, which consists of two regulation size baseball fields one of which will be large enough to accommodate other uses such as junior football or soccer.
1979: Lights installed on Linscott Field.
McGuire Field construction completed and play begins.
1980: CARA removes all dead and diseased elm trees from Piggery Road and commences a long-term tree-planting program.
Kennebec Valley Horseshoe Pitchers construct a 20-court horseshoe-pitching complex.
Morton Field construction is completed. Field is large enough to accommodate both baseball and soccer.
A National Guard construction project upgrades the Piggery Road by installing a 12 inch gravel base and culverts where needed.
1981: A mud football field is constructed and the first State of Maine mud football championship is held.
1983: Electricity is extended along Piggery Road hooking up the horseshoe complex and McGuire and Morton Fields.
National Guard Armory Committee begins construction of new softball field now known as Minuteman Field.
Piggery Road is reconstructed from Cony Road a distance of 500 feet westerly in conjunction with construction of the new Veterans Home.
1985: Minuteman Field construction is completed and play begins.
1986: Capitol Area Vo-Tech constructs dugouts and large press-box/storage building at Minuteman Field.
1987: Lease with Bureau of Public Lands re-negotiated for a new 25 year period extending until 2012.
1989: State of Maine purchases Minuteman field from Augusta National Guard Armory Committee and deeds premises to Augusta East Little League. State of Maine also makes payment to AELL for acquisition of the AELL farm league team.
1990: Lighting installed on Rivelli and Minuteman Fields.
1991: Lease with Bureau of Public Lands re-negotiated for a period of 99 years extending to 12/3/2090 .
1994: Construction of a large multi-purpose field and parking area begins. Field now known as CARA Youth Memorial Field completed in November.
1995: Backstops and dugouts installed on CARA fields and play begins.
1997: CARA receives dismantled Hadlock Field bleachers and some funding for the erection of bleachers from the City of Augusta . Construction begins on the 1500 seat bleacher project.
1998: CARA signs sub-lease with the Capitol Area Youth Soccer Association for the necessary land area to construct three Olympic size soccer fields.
1999: Construction begins on the soccer fields.
2000: Paving of the easterly end of Piggery road begins.
2001: Soccer complex is completed.
2002: Patriot Field is constructed and completed in a three-month period.
East end of Piggery road paving project completed.
2003: 1000 feet of Piggery Road on west end paved.
2004: Connector road between Morton Field parking lot and Soccer complex is constructed.
2005: Construction begins on 85 vehicle parking lot, access road, and two outdoor basketball courts.
2006: Basketball court paved, parking lot completed, courts are striped and fenced; Basketball court dedicated to John Bridge August 2006; Parking lot adjacent to Minuteman Field is built, Expand Morton Field parking lot.
2007: Signs were placed at each end of Piggery Road; New concession stand Bobâ€™s Kitchen opened at Augusta Babe Ruth; Drainage for T-Ball Field adjacent to Rivelli Field; Perimeter Fence replaced around Horseshoe Complex; Minuteman Field regraded and resurfaced.
2008: Finish Minuteman resurface project; Rebuild infields on Rivelli and Linscott Fields.
2009: Augusta Babe Ruth begins construction of drainage improvements at Morton Field; Drainage work adjacent to Patriot Field.
2010: Augusta Babe Ruth continues with 5 yr. drainage project; Drainage work adjacent to Linscott Field.
2011: Augusta Babe Ruth completes drainage project at Morton Field; Capitol Area Softball Association installs backstop at new practice field; Replace fence on Soccer Complex; Dugouts replaced on Linscott Field.
2012: Dugouts on Minuteman Field are Replaced; McGuire infield is regraded and lip buildup is removed; CARA relocates fencing at southerly end of Youth Memorial Field to begin large scale renovation to increase parking and improve drainage; Hand rails to Morton bleachers are installed and initiates bleacher safety improvements at McGuire Field; Backstop is replaced on Minuteman Field.