The City Council is considering the need and interest in South Burlington for an Indoor Active Recreation Center (IARC) to be built at Veterans Park. The interest in an IARC for our community dates back over 20 years to earlier studies and efforts to build such a facility.
The most recent study was conducted in 2013 when a Council-appointed committee looked at the viability of building a Library, City Hall and IARC, as part of City Center. The Community Center at 180 Market Street, which includes a library and City Hall, will break ground this fall. However, an Indoor Active Recreation Center was deemed to be too large to work well and would be too expensive to build in City Center.
The South Burlington Recreation and Parks Committee has been an advocate for the construction of an IARC for many, many years. Committee members strongly believe that the City needs an indoor facility for those months of the year when weather no longer allows for outdoor activities such as pickleball, basketball, tennis, volleyball and other “net” sports as well as exercise classes for all ages, walking facilities and others. The long winters and cold/wet weather in Vermont make it ever more important to have an indoor facility of sufficient size for the public to play sports, recreate and just interact with one another.
The last point is very important; as the digital age has come upon us we find a new generation of people who socialize through electronic means if they socialize at all. SoBu Nite Out and other City-sponsored programs have helped to get residents out of their houses enjoying music, good food and good times with neighbors and friends and to make new acquaintances. An IRAC can do much the same throughout the winter months to include indoor entertainment, trade shows, farmers markets etc.
The decision to build an IRAC will be made by the voters at some yet to be established date in the future. The effort at this time is to develop information about the needs and interest of the public in a IRAC and project what the cost of construction and operations would be so voters can make an informed decision.
While the need for active indoor space in our community has been established for the past two decades, this timeline represents the most recent initiatives for this project.
August 1, 2018
City Council accepted a resolution put forth by the Recreation and Park Committee, endorsing the current concept and programming plan to create an indoor active recreation center.
January 14, 2019
The Recreation and Parks Committee and Recreation and Parks Director submitted a needs and priority list for an indoor recreation center to City Council for review. The list prioritized spaces for operations and programs, as well as a list of desired spaces for future expansion.
January 17, 2019
Dore and Whittier presented a conceptual design for a new indoor active recreation center to be located at Veterans Memorial Park. This highly desirable location would provide connectivity to Cairns Ice Arena and the enhanced food services they will be providing, as the renovate and move toward a central entrance.
Voters were presented with a ballot item to increase the local options tax at the Annual Meeting. This ballot item could have been a potential funding source for building an Indoor Active Recreation Center.
June 6, 2019
Recreation and Parks Committee reviewed the proposed RFQ before it went public.
July 5, 2019
RFQ submissions due to Project Manager
July 11, 2019
Staff meet to review RFQ submissions and develop a recommendation to City Council.
July 15, 2019
City Council considered the recommendtation and approved entering into a contract with Freeman, French, and Freeman for $175,000.
August 26, 2019
Stakeholder meetings and a Public Forum were held at City Hall. During this time, information about the community's needs was gathered. BH+A Architect Joel Bargman facilitated the meetings and recorded the information,
August 28, 2019
Indoor Active Recreation Survey went live via Survey Monkey. The community was notified via ads in the Other Paper, announced on Front Porch Forum, on the City's website and through the City's social media channels.
September 9, 2019
The online survey closed and all information was forwarded to BH+A Consulting in preparation of the next round of concepts for public review and input.
September 17, 2019
Public Forum with BH+A to review design options and solicit public input to narrow focus to one preferred design to then build out costs for.
A cost analysis will be completed for the prefered design, in preparation for a recommendation to City Council.
City Council will review and consider action on the proposed plan.