It was interesting to hear that we were the smallest town the UNH team has yet studied, but had the largest turnout for the focus groups and town wide meeting. Clearly the public was engaged.990 total surveys were completed. 85 were paper surveys, the rest were online.
No crystal clear winner in my mind, but many more questions. I was hoping for definitive answers along the lines of " the data shows that...." We did get some of that, but as to the big question of the need for a new gym/facility not quite there yet. The team was emphatic that we should immediately undertake the top three recommendations " right now" however:
- Extend partnerships between the Town and the SAU for school facility use, particularly in the after school hours and during the summer.
- Explore partnership opportunities for indoor recreation use with local communities and organizations.
- Provide sufficient financial resources for on-going operations and maintenance of existing recreation facilities, including athletic fields, beaches, boat launches and playgrounds.
In regards to partnerships with other communities, there are many facilities within a 10 square mile radius and perhaps a number of communities working together can justify the need for a regional approach with shared costs for any new indoor facility. Recommendation number three explores the possibility of divesting some town owned property and cautioned on the high cost to dredge the States Landing beach and instead develop the outdoor park area and focusing on the boat launch. Selling the States Landing property was suggested, but there is some question as to whether we can legally do that. A private/public partnership was suggested as a possibility.
There was also a fourth recommendation involving renovating the Lions Club building or possibly divesting the property if a community center were to be built.
We did get a "thumbnail" sketch of the benchmarking communities that answered the UNH teams request for information ( 9 of 15 responded) and I look forward to seeing the details of those responses. Of the nine communities that responded, five have some sort of indoor facility. They range from Ashland which has an 800 square foot " Booster Club" and accommodates their after school program and summer camps. Conway has a 5,400 square foot indoor facility that includes "administrative space for the Parks and Recreation Department and supplemental office space. It includes a multipurpose ball field that can accommodate little league baseball, soccer, field hockey and football, a gymnasium with an indoor basketball court, an outdoor basketball court, and a playground. The site also includes an indoor gymnasium (with a basketball court), library, art room, game room, computer lab, kitchen and restrooms. There are 50 public parking spaces." A good example of a scaled down approach that still manages to meet the needs of the community. Meredith was by far the largest with a " community center" of 18,000 square feet and per the UNH team is unusual for such a small community. Ossipee has 3,500 square foot Town Hall gymnasium and basketball court which has led to a number of interesting issues, such as noise disrupting the workings of Town Hall. Probably not a model for Moultonboro.
Speaking in basketball terms then, this was not a slam dunk answer. It does get us closer though and there is a tremendous amount of data yet to sort through and much food for thought. As I mentioned when the meeting closed, the trick for the BoS will be to find the right balance that meets the needs of the community as a whole. A ways to got yet to be sure, but we did make some progress.