First phase of Vergennes rec pavilion nears finish

THIS DRONE PHOTO shows work in progress to prepare a concrete slab that will support a covered, 9,600-square-foot pavilion in the Vergennes recreation area. That work was being wrapped up last week. The slab will get a liner and serve as a skating rink this winter, and the pavilion will be a multi-season home to educational and entertainment events as well as recreation. Photo courtesy of Michael Daniels

VERGENNES — The first phase in building a 9,600-square-foot roofed pavilion in the Vergennes recreation area off East Street is all but complete.

That phase was installation of a concrete slab large enough to support the planned 60-by-160-foot structure, city Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Kathy Rossier told the city council on Nov. 9.

“This slab is ready to house the pavilion,” she said.

The pavilion, designed to be 17 feet high to allow basketball, is behind the city’s skate park and hut and tennis courts, to the east of Vergennes Union Elementary School. The new slab expands upon what was the city’s skating rink and basketball courts.

But Vergennes Parks and Recreation Committee members envision it as much more.

According to a handout they gave to the council in the spring, “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.”

The pavilion could also host classes and programs for the school next door. The Addison Northwest School District board and the city council recently agreed to swap small pieces of land to allow the pavilion to be built as designed.

Soon, Rossier told the council last week, the slab will provide the home for its traditional cold-weather use, skating.

“We’re just waiting for the temperatures to reach freezing, and we’ll flood the lining,” she said.

WORKERS LAST WEEK put the finishing touches on this concrete slab to the rear of the Vergennes recreation area off East Street. It will replace and improve upon the city’s former outdoor skating rink this winter, and plans call for it to eventually support a 9,600-square-foot covered pavilion for basketball, pickleball and a variety of community events.
Independent photo/Andy Kirkaldy

The first phase cost about $300,000 and received a major boost from a $191,900 donation from Ferrisburgh’s Hoehl Foundation. City contributions and rec committee fundraising, including a benefit concert on the site, met that grant’s required match of $95,950 and allowed the work to be completed.

Rossier said the companies involved in the project — Parent Construction of Hinesburg, J.P. Carrara & Sons, Otter Creek Engineering, Peck Electric and Artisan Engineering of Shelburne — were considerate with their pricing and/or donation of design and engineering expertise, helping to keep costs in line even with materials and labor expenses rising.

Another factor in controlling were the dozen volunteers who have helped with a number of tasks along the way, Rossier said. For example, on Sept. 25 a half-dozen volunteers removed a roof overhang from the skate hut that would have jutted over the pavilion’s footprint.

Overall, the project’s first phase included removing the existing asphalt, leveling the site with a new stone base, installing insulation and a vapor barrier, and then pouring the concrete over reinforcing rebar. The final of three visits to perform that task was ongoing last week. A conduit for electricity was also installed.

Parent Construction was also grading the site last week and will return to finish that task in the spring, when seeding and mulching the area will also be done.

Next, Rossier told the council, will come the final phase, putting up the pavilion at a cost of between $400,000 and $500,000. She said the rec committee had one estimate for a prefab open building at the low end of that range, and another at the higher end.

Rossier clarified for the Independent the next day why the committee had not simply gone with the lower estimate. She said committee members were not convinced the bids were similarly comprehensive, and they wanted to follow up with the lower bidder.

“We’re still asking that $400,000 guy if it was apples-to-apples,” Rossier said.

Rossier also told the council that representatives of the Hoehl Foundation recently visited the site and told the rec committee they would at least welcome another grant application. The committee will apply in December and hope for an answer by early spring.

Rossier said the committee would be looking for other federal, state and foundation grants, and seek individual donations to help make the pavilion become a reality.


Meanwhile, the rec committee has received two grants to help refurbish the skate park, and an outside group of volunteers helped spruce up the park on Sept. 28. The park has recently been offline due to construction next door.

On that day a dozen volunteers from Abercrombie & Fitch’s corporate headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, cleaned and painted the skate park elements, cleaned its asphalt surface, and sanded and stained the benches near the skate park and tennis courts, Rossier said.

At the same time Abercrombie & Fitch also donated $7,500, with no strings attached, to the city’s recreation department.

Still due for the skate park is a resurfacing of its asphalt in May and the addition of another element, at a combined cost of a little more than $12,000, plus the skate hut needs rewiring and cosmetic work.

Rossier said the rec department has also been awarded a Building Better Communities Grant from the state, one that requires a 50% match and will fund half the cost of the skate park work. She added the local match can from three sources: $2,400 from a GoFundMe effort organized by a skateboarder, a $1,500 donation from an individual, the Abercrombie and Fitch gift, and city funds.

The rest of the company’s donation will be put toward scholarships to rec department programming and possibly some of the work to the skate hut, Rossier said.

City Manager Ron Redmond also outlined $19,900 of electrical service upgrades needs for the recreation area that are unmet, including a new transformer to be installed by Green Mountain Power and 220 feet of electrical conduits. He suggested the city’s Water Tower Fund be tapped, but councilors said they wanted to review the health of that fund before they made a decision.

As the meeting discussion wrapped up, Mayor Matt Chabot said he was grateful for the rec committee’s efforts, especially on the pavilion.

“You are all to be congratulated for every aspect of this,” Chabot said.

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