Updated: Burgo Basketball Association signs 30-year lease for recreational facility

Mar 27, 2024

After over 12 years of work and some soon-to-be-completed paperwork, Steve Burgo’s dream of a regional indoor recreational center in Dartmouth is finally coming to fruition.

Burgo Basketball Association and the Select Board came to an agreement for the 30-year lease of the non-profit association’s 101 Slocum Road location and it was signed on Wednesday, March 27.

The facility will be known as the B.B.A. Basketball Complex.

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

Burgo’s efforts were halted again in 2017 when he ran into difficulties negotiating an extension of the 10 year lease.

“It’s like the Empire State Building is off my chest,” he said of the completed deal.

“I have no hard feelings toward the Select Board,” Burgo said. “I am upset that it has taken us this long, but the only thing [that matters] is we've gotten there. The way we look at it, it's a step in the right direction. We're on our way to get the building done.”

Select Board Vice Chair Shawn McDonald said he has supported the project and 30-year lease for some time now, adding how the Covid pandemic and meeting state requirements were roadblocks in their path to get it done.

Due to Burgo’s “in-kind services,” which are non-monetary contributions like volunteering to teach basketball to the community, “technically, we're not really charging for anything,” McDonald said.

He added that other organizations in town fall under the same category and now have the opportunity to request a 30-year lease, which will then have to be approved by Town Meeting.

Though the multiple basketball courts planned for the facility are certainly a highlight, they aren’t the only attraction, according to Burgo. 

There will be a walking track as well as classrooms for kids who might be looking for some extra tutoring or for SAT preparation.

Burgo said there are already six or seven teachers ready to help.

He has also teamed up with South Coast United Soccer to put soccer fields in the back and has an opportunity for a turf field through a collaboration with United States Soccer.

He highlighted the difficulties schools face in having enough space for all sports and teams to practice simultaneously and he wanted his facility to help alleviate that burden for athletes.

Therefore, Dartmouth High School and Bishop Stang High School will be able to practice there and the fields and courts will be open regionally for public use.

Burgo said he also has plans to team up the Dartmouth Girls Athletic League.

“The girls have been second fiddle in this town forever,” he said. “That's not going to happen anymore.”

“We plan on doing as much as we can to get as much use out of the building as we can,” Burgo said.

The construction of the facility will be completed in stages that will allow for partial use before the project is completely finished.

“Once I get all the finances set and everything we're going to get started as soon as we can,” Burgo said.

He said the association hopes to have made enough progress to begin usage by this time next year, but added how that will depend on finances.

Burgo said the association has put $2.5 million into the project so far — the funds for which have been raised by himself, friends and colleagues.

He highlighted how much people have done for the association in an effort to make this facility a reality. 

Burgo said, “It shows that people care,” adding how it reflects the values of the association.

“It's all about the kids — that's what it's about,” he said. “Everything that we've done has been right from the heart.”

Board member Ray Medeiros, who lives by the Slocum Road location, recalls back in 2004, looking out his deck window and seeing Burgo on a road roller, flattening the asphalt for the basketball courts.

“He got to the edge and because he doesn't know how to do it — he's been a pencil pusher his whole life — he's trying to act like a construction worker and he rolled this roller right to the edge and it tipped over,” Medeiros said, laughing at the memory.

Not knowing Burgo at the time, he assumed the owners weren’t going to be too happy about it, but it wouldn’t be too long after that he would be asked to join Burgo’s efforts.

“Just seeing it go from that to what we're going to build —  it's astronomical,” he said.

Board member Alekz Hirschmann said he looks forward to being able to impact the lives of young athletes.

Board member Geoffrey Faucher said having been a resident for almost four decades, it’s an exciting time.

“Just seeing this growth from Steve's backyard to this vision that he's already accomplished to now, the opportunity to expand and give the town something that it sorely needs and create a rec center — for basketball especially, but also other sports — that is just going to be absolutely amazing for everyone here and doing it with a culture for sports.”

Faucher added the association is not about making the best team, but giving kids the opportunity to grow and learn while also staying entertained and getting exercise — that’s the culture Burgo’s association has created.

Board member Preston LaBonte said he looks forward to fostering community through the center, emphasizing the value in building relationships.

“I have friends that I've met here over time that I still talk to this day,” he said. “It's been great to be able to see his vision come to life.”

Board member Graham Gisherman said Burgo was his trainer back in the day and he recalls him talking about the recreational center and since then, he’s been waiting.

“This man has done so much for the South Coast area, and he cares about all the kids,” Gisherman said. 

Burgo said, “And the kids know that Mr. B will do anything for them. … It's not just about basketball. You got a problem? You need help? You call me.”

At Slocum Road on Wednesday, kids could be seen playing basketball, laughing and enjoying their time. “As corny as it may sound — this is me,” he said, gesturing to the scene. “You look at this place, it's me.”