Have other locations been reviewed?
Over 10 years ago a community center plan was reviewed for behind McAlister Middle School. At that time the proposal was a full service community center with pool, gym and also multiple sports fields and was estimated to cost upwards of $12M. The project was deemed as too ambitious and the prospoal didn't move forward.
Why are you keeping that old building?
With updates and expansion the building suits the needs for a community center. The Ad-Hoc committee did investigate demolition of the building and construction of a new building. The costs for a newly constructed, 25,000 sq. ft building were nearly double the the cost of renovating. The building is on the state historic register. The renovation of the existing building is deemed more enviornmental friendly, it also follows the conservation mission of our current Town Center Village District plan and is the most affordable option.
Does P&R really need more space?
Yes. The department currently utilizes school buildings, business space and parks and fields for programs. The use of so many different spaces for programs is prohibitive and does not provide continuity within the department. It would be more beneficial to have a central, consistent location for all P&R programing as well allowing for more daytime availability for scheduling. The department is currently unable to adequately service preschool aged children, their parents/caregivers, special needs population and adults due to lack of available space.
Parents would like to see more Mommy and Me style programs as well as Pee Wee sports for the pre-school aged children.Adults would like more affordable wellness programs during the day. The public schools only offer after school care until 5th grade; after this grade teens lack a constructive and safe place to congregate after school.
What can I do to help?
We are always looking for volunteers to help. It could be as simple as sending an email or letter, to knocking on a door or helping to raise funds for this cause. If you are interested to help please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are there environmental concerns with the building?
Yes, but all are common with a building of this age and able to fully remediated. There is lead, and likely asbestos and mold present currently. No PCB's have been identified. Extensive testing has been done both inside and outside of the building, including within the soils. Due to the extensive renovation of this building all environmental hazards would be properly neutralized and removed in a process called abatement. Once finished the building would be safe for daily occupancy.
What questions are on your mind?
Below are answers to some popular questions surrounding this proposal.
If you have additional questions or comments please ask them below.
Is the building structurally sound?
Numerous professionals including architects, contractors, inspectors and recognized experts have inspected the building and have deemed it structurally sound. Due to the buildings brick construction it is a very solid and sturdy building.
Will there be retail space in the building?
The current proposal does NOT include retail space. The redevelopment of Fflyer Place, across from CVS is on the horizon and would be a more advantageous location for commercial and retail space.
What are the operating costs?
The operating costs for the new building are estimated at $66,500. Additional staffing needs are approximately $87,000. The total yearly expenses for the building are estimated at under $155,000. The current business plan details how P&R will be able to sustain all these yearly expenses within 5 years, and realize a profit, thus not imposing any additional tax burden on tax payers.
I don't use P&R services, how will this benefit me?
A community center, though run by P&R, is the community's building. The building will serve as a central hub for the community, think like colonial times when churches and meeting houses were the central activity center for a town. Residents will be able to have daily access and ne able to make room reservations. Local non-profits, organizations, hobbyists, school groups and sports clubs will all benefit from access to the facility. Artists can display their artwork and teach their trade . . . adults and youth can participate in open gym . . . children can play on the outdoor playround . . . the ideas and uses are limitless.
Does the plan have enough parking spaces? Can it accommodate bus traffic?
The current plan proposes removing one curb cut onto Bridge Street to accommodate two-way flow of traffic through one entrance point. The current plan has approximately 50 parking spaces, which is believed to meet the need of the facility. The final design will take into account the traffic study and add/eliminate parking space as needed. The parking lot design can accommodate the flow of buses.
How will this impact traffic on Bridge Street?
A traffic study would be conducted as a condition of the proposal. The study would analyze current traffic flows and patterns and then review the impact the community center could have and make recommendations. It is understood that there have been traffic accidents on this road and are some safety concerns at crosswalks. This proposal would seek to improve safety on the street. It is important to note that this is a State Road so DOT would approve all plans.
Can non-residents use the community center?
The majority of P&R programs are enjoyed by Suffield residents. The department gives priority to Suffield residents for all programs and allows non-resident participation at a higher fee. The community center is expected to follow the same guideline. Suffield residents would have precedence and non-residents would be permitted but a fee would likely be assessed.
Will fees be imposed for use?
Your taxpayer dollars allow you use of the community center. P&R programs will continue to be fee based. There could be small fees imposed for teen center programing like homework help or structured open gym time. In general room reservations for non-profits and organizations or hobbyists will be free of charge. If you plan on accessing the room for a birthday party or other social gathering a small rental fee would prevail to cover the cost of hiring a building monitor. Playground and field use would be free of charge.
Why isn't there a pool in the proposal?
The desire for a community pool was expressed often during the needs assessment for the community center and continues to be a conversation on social media and other forums. The current plan doesn’t account for a pool due to high costs and differing opinions on future management, liability and operation.
That said the site does have room for future expansion and we believe a pool would be a wonderful addition to the community and to this community center location.
Can we consolidate some town offices into the space?
The proposal suggests that P&R and Youth Services move from Town Hall to Bridge Street. This would free up available office space at Town Hall.
If BSCC were bonded would other projects be sacrificed?
No. Our community has many admirable and needed projects on the horizon and the Ad-Hoc Committee does not want to see any project be sidelined. Our BOF, BOS & ACCE can work together to manage all the needs and develop a funding strategy that maximizes project efforts but is mindful to taxpayers wallets. The SHS bond rolls off in 2021, which opens up our bonding ability significantly allowing for the town to fund many projects, if desired.