Burgo considering building proposed recreation center elsewhere

Nov 16, 2020

Just a few weeks after Fall Town Meeting members rejected the sale of town-owned land off Reed Road, Burgo Basketball Association founder and president Steve Burgo is already looking for new sites in nearby communities for his proposed indoor rec center.

“We’re looking at New Bedford, Fairhaven, Acushnet and Westport,” Burgo said. “Whichever one we can find, we’ll go with it.”

Burgo was a likely candidate for buying the property off the corner of Reed and State roads if the town had agreed to sell.

His plans for the space included outdoor fields as well as a large indoor facility with basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, an indoor track, batting cages, a weight room, a rec room with pool and ping pong tables, and other amenities.

Burgo noted that he’s been trying to build an indoor recreation project for nearly ten years. BBA had previously run into problems trying to build a similar indoor facility at its current 101 Slocum Road location, which it leases from the town.

In 2018, the association was prevented from buying the property after the family of former owner J. Greer McBratney told the town that the donor did not want the Slocum Road property to be sold.

“If Dartmouth doesn’t want it, I’m over it,” he said. 

Burgo added that large soccer tournaments planned for the fields could draw in hundreds of people.

“It’s Dartmouth’s loss,” he said. “The financial reward that this town would have benefited from would have been incredible.” 

The article was proposed by the Select Board 4-1, while the Finance Committee rejected it 9-0.

The Finance Committee had rejected the article due to concerns the property’s value would increase, potential town Parks and Recreation uses for the land, and the timing of the lease or sale, committee chair Teresa Hamm said in October.

Some neighborhood residents had also campaigned against selling the land in order to preserve the woods and wetlands. Ultimately, the article failed at Town Meeting with 70 in favor and 150 against.

The BBA president added that while he is looking to move operations out of Dartmouth, it would only be for the new facility.

“We will continue to have what we have on Slocum Road,” he said. “It’s just the new building that wouldn’t be.”