In 2012, the Select Board appointed a Community Center Feasibility Committee to evaluate existing and future space needs of the Council on Aging & Human Services (COA&HS) and the Parks & Recreation Department (PRD). The Committee concluded that Bemis was not well-suited for use as a senior center, and that the Hartwell Pods, home to PRD, were long past their life expectancy. The Committee recommended that the Select Board lead a public process to assess the Town’s interest in a new community center and to study potential sites.
In 2015, the Board appointed a Community Center Study Committee to determine the Town’s desire for a community center and to examine sites. The Committee concluded that COA&HS’s needs are acute and immediate, and that PRD’s needs are significant. After extensive and multiple opportunities for public participation and input were provided, the “overwhelming” choice for location, among five site alternatives, was the Hartwell Campus.
In 2016, the Select Board and School Committee jointly appointed a Campus Master Planning Committee to determine whether the Ballfield Road Campus has the capacity to absorb additional uses, including a community center. The Committee concluded that there is no engineering or regulatory reason precluding a community center on the Ballfield Road campus.
In 2018, the Community Center Preliminary Planning and Design Committee (CCPPDC), the most recent Community Center planning Committee, issued its report. CCPPDC advanced the process to the point that we now have two conceptual design options for a new Community Center in the Hartwell area of the Ballfield Road school campus. CCPPDC’s contributions include: further definition of the program; development of a range of site plans; preliminary design development for two building concepts; and more refined cost estimates. CCPPDC’s work culminated in a Special Town Meeting presentation on June 9, 2018. In the end, both CCPPDC and Town Meeting felt that both conceptual designs that were presented (i.e., a new building concept that was titled “Central Secondary Green”, and a plan to repurpose the pods titled “Infill of Pods”) were equally worthy of further consideration.