How long has the City been working on building an Indoor Active Recreation Center (IARC)?
The early work on an indoor facility to support community recreation started in the 1990s and continued throuth the early 2000s. More recently in 2018, work began on feasibility studies and preliminary design work, when the Recreation and Parks Committee advocated for work to begin on developing information on the needs of the community and possible high-level design elements. View the timeline of these activities.
What is the current status of the project?
The City hired local architectural firm Dore and Whittier to do a preliminary feasibility study on an IARC, encompassing perceived programmatic needs and a sketch of a facility that would meet those needs. When that study was completed, it provided the size of facility needed to accommodate the perceived needs.
Then, a Request for Proposals (RFP) was sent to architectural firms in the area to move to the next level in needs assessment and to produce a more detailed design. From this process, the local firm Freeman French Freeman (FFF) was selected for this next step in the design process.
FFF has sub-contracted work related to facility operations, programs, and some design issues to the firm Bargmann Hendrie + Archetype, Inc (BH+A), a Boston-based firm which has expertise in facilities of this type. BH+A has begun work through stakeholders meetings and a survey to catalog and assess the interests of residents for design features and capabilities of a facility.
What is the City doing to ask the residents what they would like to see in an IARC?
The City has sent out the first survey of this process through an on-line tool called Survey Monkey. The purpose of this survey is to get higher level, more general responses from the residents about how they currently recreate in winter months and what they would be looking for in an IARC.
BH+A has also held a series of meetings in August 2019 with the representatives of larger stakeholder groups such as senior citizens, various athletic coaches, Recreation Department staff and others. This process will continue to be refined through additional meetings and surveys.
Didn’t we already vote this down on the March 2019 ballot?
No, the voters considered a proposal this past March at the Annual Meeting to add 1% on the existing Local Option Tax to be used for future construction of public facilities. The voters did not vote on funding an IARC. Instead, the voters were asked to consider an additional 1% on both sales and rooms, meals and alcoholic beverages to add to the existing local option tax on these items consistent with the current authority in the City Charter at:
Chapter 13-1506. Sales, rooms, meals, and alcoholic beverages tax
(d) Rooms, meals and alcoholic beverage tax revenues received by the City may, at the sole discretion of the
City Council, be used in the following ways: (1) To deposit in a reserve fund established by the City Council to
fund the purchase of land or for the construction or reconstruction of City buildings and infrastructure;
The vote in March was to secure additional funding for infrastructure projects that could have included an IARC, a Creative Arts Center, the proposed bike and pedestrian bridge across I-89 or for reconstruction of existing facilities. The vote in March was not a vote to approve or disapprove of the construction of an IARC. Importantly, each of these projects would have to have been approved by the voters in an additional, separate vote.
Why aren’t you and the school working together? Do we really need one facility?
The City and School District are, in fact, working together on projects that both are considering. The School District through its Master Planning and Visioning process has been planning for a number of years for improvements in the physical infrastructure of the various schools. Most recently, the School Board has been considering up to eight options on construction of a new High School and significant modifications to the Middle School.
City and School Board staff have met on several occasions to consider whether or not an expanded health and fitness facility being built for the schools’ purposes could also accommodate the needs of the community for an indoor recreation facility. The City, in fact, accelerated the public outreach and program needs analysis of the proposed IRAC so that City and School staff could have a more informed discussions about the overall indoor recreational/athletic needs of both the City and School.
After this series of discussions about the needs of the school athletic program and other related demands on their proposed health and wellness facility, it became clear that the School facilities would not be able to accommodate the needs of a municipal recreation facility. Only a separate municipal facility will accommodate the needs of the non-student South Burlington residents from pre-school to seniors.
The School District has planned to bring the question of new school facilities to the voters at the Annual Meeting in March 2020. In order to be ready for that question the School Board needed information on the combined needs of the community so that they could decide whether or not to factor those elements into their overall design and make a decision in time to prepare the public for the vote.
The City was more than willing to accommodate this accelerated need for information and appreciates the hard work the School District and staff have put into their plans for the future educational needs of the community.
Furthermore, the City Council has agreed that they will not put a question of funding an IARC on the ballot for the voters at the same time that the School District has a question about school construction. The Council recognizes the importance to the community of the school questions and does not want to confuse any voter consideration over school funding.
Where did the funds come from to pay the service contract on the Indoor Active Recreation Center?
The Impact Fee Ordinance is in the process of being updated by Resource Systems Group (RSG), as well as consideration of a new Public Facilities Impact Fee. The intent is to have projects in the Impact Fee Ordinance better aligned with the Capital Improvement Plan, as some of the projects currently in the ordinance are no longer valid, and to adopt a new Impact Fee to aid with the funding of planned public facilities including the Library/City Hall and indoor recreational facilities.
The payment for services will initially come from the General Fund balance, and the City Council has indicated its support for the use of Impact Fees once the consideration, review and approval of the Impact Fee Ordinance is finalized. Once the new Ordinance is approved, the Council can qualify this project as eligible for reimbursement to the General Fund balance, a process that was also used in the establishment of the Police Impact Fee for the new Police Station.
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