UD-3 board gets first look at Creek Road gym proposal

MIDDLEURY — The UD-3 school board on Tuesday got its first look at some sketches showing how a new municipal recreation center could be sited on a 2.4-acre parcel of district-owned property off Creek Road.
UD-3 acquired the property from the Middlebury American Legion Post 27 back in 2000 for $275,000. The land includes the former Legion Hall, a Little League field and parking lot accessed by those who use the surrounding playing fields leased to the district by Middlebury College. Community members at one point hoped to transform the old Legion hall into a teen center, but that task proved too expensive.
Meanwhile, town officials are viewing the Creek Road site as a possible spot to host an 11,400-square-foot recreation center. The center is currently being proposed for a site on Middlebury’s recreation park off Mary Hogan Drive. But ID-4 school board directors, who have control over what may be built on the recreation park lands, have expressed concerns about the potential impact on parking, traffic circulation and other activities at the neighboring Mary Hogan Elementary School.
Recreation center supporters are now taking a close look at the Creek Road spot and its potential for hosting the facility, which would replace the municipal gym at the intersection of College and South Main streets. Plans call for tearing down the current municipal building and town gym and turning over the land to Middlebury College, and building new town offices at 77 Main St. and a new rec. center.
Chris Huston of Bread Loaf Corp. showed UD-3 directors some images of how the new center could be sited in place of the old Legion hall, a deteriorating structure that some district officials fear is a growing liability. Moreover, some UD-3 officials on Tuesday raised the notion of including men’s and women’s locker rooms in the new recreation center, because students must currently change before they arrive at the playing fields, or in vehicles in the parking lot.
“We want to do the best thing for the most people for the least amount of money,” said Nancy Malcolm, leader of a town steering committee that is planning the new town office and recreation center.
Middlebury Union High School Principal Bill Lawson said removal of the old Legion hall was estimated to cost $65,000 four years ago. He expects that number could be much higher in today’s dollars.
“That facility would be a positive, I think,” Lawson said of the new center, which would feature a gym.
UD-3 board members agreed to follow the debate about the Creek Road property and will ultimately look to the district’s facilities committee to deliver a recommendation. That facilities committee was slated to meet with members of the town’s steering committee on Wednesday as the Addison Independent went to press.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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