This is a good learning opportunity and a chance to correct some misinformation:
- In answer to the lead in question: "Have we pursued use of the Immaculate Conception gym space? "Yes we have. Thoroughly. Way too expensive. The proposed cost to lease was very prohibitive. In addition, the Town would have to pay utilities and make some improvements to the property. The bottom line was the cost coupled with logistical challenges made this a no go.
- In answer to the question regarding the UNH recommendation to extend partnerships between the School and Town for after school programs and summer camps,that has been done and is ongoing. The Town and School have worked extremely well together. After school drop in programs are now held at the school and this past summer for the first time we were able to use the schools on inclement weather days for camp in the summer. Many parents send their kids to the full day camp program in Meredith and if our community center is approved, we will be able to offer a full day camp program as well as improved after school programs and charge appropriate fees.
- The BoS did not get UNH to do a study to " get underneath what the population wanted."What was voted down in 2008 was a specific project at the Lions Club property. Subsequently, Town Meeting voted in 2013 to pursue development of a facility per the Blue Ribbon report. In 2014, voters approved $17,500 for a site study for such a facility " on or adjacent to school property." The BoS pursued those legislative body directives and that is why we have this proposal on the table. We did what the legislative body asked us to do. Nothing more.
- The letter writer suggests renovating/expanding the Lions Club, renovating the current rec building and leasing the Immaculate Conception school gym. The three properties are 6 plus miles apart and we would have to maintain and staff each facility. Economically and logistically, that makes no sense. In addition, the current rec center has very limited outdoor space which severely limits is potential.
- The gyms at the schools are utilized to capacity by the schools and the rec programs. There is very little capacity available to add any new programs or provide additional practice time. While there were more students at one time in the schools, there were actually less teams.When school is in session , the after school availability of the two gyms is just about maxed out. The Blue Ribbon Commission, the UNH Feasibility Study and the Town committee all came to the same conclusion.
One more time: As I have said in the past, if you are truly interested in getting facts and accurate information, please contact our Town Administrator, Recreation Director or a Selectman. From what I have been privy to, the behind the scenes campaign is full of inaccurate assumptions and very personal biases.Come to Town Meeting March 12th and please, please take the time to get accurate information before deciding your vote.