By Shaw Israel Izikson, Contributor
Preliminary plans were discussed for a possible community center in town at the selectboard’s regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 25.
The board discussed the prospective plans with Recreation Director Nicole Conley, who presented a slideshow to the board that included the reasoning for a community center, along with findings from the town’s Community Center Committee.
“We have been working on this project for a year now,” Conley said. “There’s a lot of questions that we have. We are at a point where we think we can’t go any further without communicating to you about our next steps.”
Conley quoted from her presentation about the need for a community center.
“Our town’s needs have grown considerably over the past 10 years,” Conley said. “We see a need for a dedicated space to bring our community together. We envision a town community center that would allow for town meetings, elections, rental space, community events, recreational sport and enrichment programs, as well as fitness and wellness components. The goal of the community center is to increase community engagement by providing a place for all residents.”
She presented a plan that included ideas for a proposed community center, including a swimming pool, multi-purpose courts, tennis courts, art studios, and an emergency shelter.
“We can start with the needs of Charlotte and we can expand,” Conley said.
Conley said that the committee sent out a survey to residents to see what they would like to see in a community center.
She said that 380 residents responded to the survey.
“The number one vote was a swimming pool [for the community center],” she said. “But we don’t want to shy away or create a perception that [the survey] is an ending point. We want to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard.”
Conley said that while the committee had 25 meetings, along with over 100 hours of volunteer work by members, the committee is now requesting that the town put funding in for a feasibility study as its next step to continue its work.
“A feasibility study would encompass all of the information that we need so that we can go on with no loose ends,” she said. “It would assist the town in determining the need and amenities, along with the location and the cost of the possible community center, and also what it would have inside of it. We want to also evaluate the financial realities for the construction and to operate it year-to-year if we were to add this.”
Conley said there are other questions that the committee is trying to find the answers to, including how a community center would be funded, its location, and whether or not the town would charge membership fees for it.”
When Selectman Lewis Mudge asked how much the construction of a building would cost, Conley said she could not answer.
“I am not comfortable giving out any numbers because it’s not in my field,” she said.
Conley did say that the cost for a feasibility study would be anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000.
“This project, after completion, will have a yearly cost, which means taxpayers will be involved in it quite a bit,” Chairman James Faulkner said. “Do you think it would be a good idea to go in front of the taxpayers at the beginning to find out what they are thinking beforehand [about a community center] before spending money on a feasibility study?”
Faulkner and Selectboard member Matt Krasnow suggested to Conley that she return at the next regular scheduled selectboard meeting on Monday, Nov. 8, with a draft motion for a town meeting asking the town for funds for a feasibility study.
Conley’s presentation to the board is at this link.