Proposed Indoor Recreation Center & Creative Arts Center

Council to Consider Recommendation from Committees on an Indoor Recreation Facility and a Creative Arts Center
Special Meeting — Monday, January 14, 2019 at 6:30 pm
City Hall

At a special meeting on Monday, January 14 at 6:30 pm, the City Council will consider recommendations from the Recreations & Parks Committee for an indoor recreation facility and from the City Center for the Arts Committee on a creative arts facility.

In December, the South Burlington Recreation and Parks Committee made a recommendation to City Council proposing a new indoor recreation facility to be constructed at Veterans Memorial Park. As envisioned by this committee, the new facility would accommodate four high school basketball-sized courts for various net sports, with one reserved as turf field for soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey training needs. The facility will also include an indoor walking track and house the Recreation & Parks department staff.

Rec Center - full layout
The need for an indoor recreation facility to support our active community has been long established. In 1998 the work of identifying program needs as ingredients to a community center began, with formal plans for a significant facility to be built at, then Dorset Park. While the need was well identified, documented and supported, the concept was never placed on a city ballot and what was an energized potential was shelved.

While planning for a senior center in the 180 Market Street Community Center, the committee began exploring locations to erect a recreation facility that would meet the needs of this community. The original designs from 1998 resurfaced and as Veterans Memorial Park infrastructure ages, upgrades to facilities like bathrooms and parking has become a priority. Thus, the location for an indoor recreation facility at the park is being recommended now. 

Creative Arts Center
The SoBu City Center for the Arts Committee has recommended the council approve the construction of a multi- purpose arts center to accommodate theater, dance, music, and visual arts in our community and for the region. According to the committee, this facility would fill a significant gap in the infrastructure in VT that supports both visual and performing arts. The committee views this as not only a performing space but also one where exploration, innovation, and new production can occur. Read the feasibility study.

Local options tax increase to be considered.

The Council will consider a 1% increase in the local options tax on sales and rooms and meals to finance these two projects and perhaps others. The Council is aware that the school district is continuing in its master planning and visioning process which may include additional capital investment by SD which could only be financed through the local property tax. The recommendation to look to a local options tax for municipal investments  is in part recognition of the SD’s potential needs from property tax payers.

A 1% addition to the local option tax would take the sales tax to 8% and rooms and meals to 11%. Recommendation to the Council is that once debt of proposed projects has been retired, the tax would sunset or end.

Should the Council choose to move forward with the local option tax, which is the most immediate action, they will take this action to the voters in March at the Annual Meeting as an amendment to the SB City Charter. If approved by the voters, the charter change would then go to the legislature for consideration and possible approval. If approved by legislature, the additional local option tax would become available to finance the projects.


Project Approval

The approval of a charter change to increase the local options tax is not an approval of the projects themselves. If approved by the Council, the recreation facility and the creative arts center would go before the voters for approval at a later date. Only after local voter approval of those projects would the tax commence along with the projects. It is possible that a vote to authorize the debt on a recreation center could occur as early as fall 2019 with the vote on the creative arts center in 2020.