Community Forum: Why Creek Road is best site for new rec center
Editor’s note: This week’s writer is Middlebury Selectman Brian Carpenter.
In talking with community members, I have found what I believe to be the root cause of the confusion over the selection of the Creek Road site for the town recreation facility.
Many people have asked me, “Why not at the recreation park?”
I believe the information I found on the process and the rationale may help clarify this question.
The Steering Committee and Bread Loaf Construction (the contractor) developed the recreation facility needs through programming interviews with recreation staff as well as the multiple users of the current municipal gymnasium. Each of the public schools’ athletic staff was visited to ensure that their gymnasiums were being extensively used and that there was no overlap with the recreation program activities.
On Aug. 29, 2013, a gymnasium needs and master-planning session was held in an open public forum. Well attended by interested citizens, information was gathered, forming the basis of the recreation facility program. (Note: Users of the proposed facility will include, but are not limited to: sports — basketball, baseball and softball skills, indoor soccer, flag football, gymnastics, lacrosse clinics, volleyball, wrestling, and coaching clinics; activities — yoga, martial arts, Zumba, and dance of all types; groups — Addison Central Teens, CVAA seniors, tot time, cooking classes, board meetings, Town Meeting, winter farmers’ market, and Counseling Service of Addison County recreation.)
The Steering Committee and Bread Loaf spent significant time reviewing optional locations for the recreation facility at the Mary Hogan site. Potential building locations included: being attached to the Memorial Sports Center, adjacent to the pool, on top of the tennis courts, on top of the basketball courts, and the westerly edge of the playfields near Route 7. Wetlands located north and south of Memorial Sports Center restricted locating the new facility in either of these locations.
It was concluded by the Steering Committee that the location closest to Route 7 was best because it provided visitors easy access to the building and minimized dislocation of existing basketball and tennis courts. However, one of the primary concerns for the Mary Hogan site was the potential safety issues and parking congestion due to the high vehicle volume at the beginning and end of each school day.
During the process, shifting the recreation focus to Creek Road was proposed.
After considering both the ID-4 Mary Hogan recreation site and the UD-3 Creek Road recreation site, the Steering Committee endorsed the Creek Road site due to the fact that it did not contain potential permitting restrictions such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund that exist at the ID-4 site, and parking is sufficient for anticipated needs at the Creek Road site with overflow parking available at South Village and at ACTR.
Also this location can provide a recreation facility complete with restrooms and shelter from storms, serving some additional users and uses that are not served by the current downtown location.
Is the solution perfect for all users?
No. Yet our current facilities are far from perfect, ergo, the decades-long quest for a feasible, affordable upgrade.
The guiding theme for the recreation facility has been “to provide the greatest good for the greatest number people and organizations.” Having spent time reviewing the facts as well as listening to townspeople’s concerns and opinions, I believe the current proposal does provide the greatest good for the greatest number of stakeholders at what is undeniably a bargain price to the town.
The proposed site for the recreation center is located in an accessible location for all users, the vast majority of which drive to the current downtown location already, and, in fact, expands the potential range of uses. And it places the recreation facility in an area with playing fields and green space where recreation programs have more flexibility than in a downtown location.
I suggest we have a workable solution in front of us that will serve the town well for many years to come, and not place undue tax burden on the residents. Let’s move forward.
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