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Ferrisburgh considers recreation area

FERRISBURH — In Ferrisburgh, a key issue as the March 1 Addison Northwest Supervisory Union unification vote approaches is the ongoing use of the school property by community recreation programs.
Those include youth soccer, baseball and softball teams, and the addition in recent years of a skating rink used by students and residents alike, to which the town’s recreation committee plans to add a concrete pad with basketball hoops and a roof.
Both the town school board and selectboard want to make sure nothing in the proposed unification would prevent the larger community from continuing, or even reasonably expanding, those uses, according to school board chairman Bill Clark and Selectboard Chairman Steve Gutowski.
As is the case in other ANwSU communities working on land issues, Ferrisburgh has until July 1, 2017, to make an agreement final. That’s when, if unification passes on March 1, the newly created unified board would take over operations and towns’ property would be transferred to the new unified district.
Clark said Gutowski has suggested modifying an existing draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) to include language acknowledging, in Clark’s words, “the current recreational uses on that land and some intention for that to continue and to expand without a unified board someday in the future interfering with that.”
That agreement would also address, Clark said, the sale or abandonment of the property, a provision that would not allow the long-term leasing of the land, provisions that would allow continued community recreational use of the property, and one that Clark called the trickiest, a provision preventing “a future board from making decisions that the current elected officials today would say would not be prudent.”
Specifically, Clark, said, town and school officials do not want, however unlikely, a unified board to change the current recreation practices on the property.
Gutowski said selectboard and school board attorneys will sit down to work out final details and make sure a document can be legally binding.
“We’re working with the lawyers on both sides to make sure we have a good solid agreement,” Gutowski said.

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