City rec pavilion plan making progress

VERGENNES — A recent major donation and more support offered on Tuesday from the Vergennes City Council are boosting plans for a covered outdoor pavilion in the city’s East Street recreation area.
The pavilion, at 11,664 square feet and 17 feet high, is planned to be next to the skate park and existing warming hut and would cover the existing skating rink and basketball court.
But Vergennes Parks and Recreation Committee officials envision it as much more.
According to a handout they gave to the council, “This proposed pavilion will create a hub for outdoor recreation in our community. This would be a place for athletic activities, educational workshops, picnics, parties, performances.”
On Tuesday recreation committee Chair Kathy Rossier told councilors that Ferrisburgh’s Hoehl family, through its Hoehl Foundation, had pledged $191,900 toward the first phase of the pavilion’s construction.
That first phase, estimated at $287,500, includes badly needed leveling of the site, a concrete floor and footers for a future building, lighting, and engineering and design costs.
Earlier this year, Rossier pegged construction of the building itself at an additional $337,000, but was confident in additional grant funding.
The Hoehls’ donation, which Rossier said they described as a two-for-one match, means Vergennes must raise $95,950 as its share.
On Tuesday, the city recreation committee, along with the Vergennes Partnership, which is collaborating with the committee, sought $30,000 from the city’s Water Tower Fund toward the Vergennes match of the Hoehls’ gift.
The Water Tower Fund is fed by cellphone companies that lease space on the city’s former water tower behind city hall.
Councilor Mel Hawley said the proposed pavilion is a perfect fit for the nature of the fund, which he said is intended to leverage grant funds for infrastructure improvements.
“This is exactly the type of project that lends itself to the Water Tower Fund policy,” Hawley said.
The council quickly supported the motion, adding $30,000 to $15,000 that Rossier said had already been raised: $5,000 from the Vergennes Rotary and $5,000 from groups affiliated with Vergennes Union Elementary School.
The pavilion’s roof would be high enough for basketball, Rossier and committee member Robyn Newton told the council. The pavilion would be big enough to allow for three hoop courts and pickleball in the summer, and leveling it would improve the quality of the rink.
Rossier also said lighting would allow “evening use throughout the year.”
Rossier added the project was benefitting from “support and guidance” from local experts, including Rebecca Rey of REY Architecture, Chris Huston of ReArch Co., builder Norman LeBoeuf, Brent Rakowski of Otter Creek Engineering, and Andrew Martin of Neagley & Chase Construction Co. 
Also, she said, J.P. Carrara & Sons had offered a discount on concrete, and a North Ferrisburgh firm is a likely contractor for the structure.
Councilors, including Mayor Matt Chabot, encouraged Rossier and the recreation committee to see the project through.
“OK, Kathy, go get ’em,” Chabot said.

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