Parks Board seeks sponsorship from youth leagues for recreation center

Jun 26, 2018

The Parks Board hopes the flexibility to host multiple youth sports or events at its proposed recreation center will persuade area organizations to back the idea.

In March, the board unveiled a conceptual site plan for a town-owned 280-by-104 square-foot indoor recreation center located in between the Dartmouth Youth Activities Association and the current police station.

It's a vision years in the making. Steve Sousa, a Dartmouth resident, came forward with the idea and started a plan ten years ago. However, without the necessary funding needed to build and maintain the facility, the plan was put on the back burner.

Now, the board is pushing to get as many area youth sports and other organizations together to support the project before pitching the idea to the Select Board.

At its June 19 meeting, the Parks Board met with Dartmouth Girls Athletic League representative John Bernat to persuade Bernat and the league to advocate for the project.

During the meeting, Bernat was shown the conceptual site plan and was able to ask questions regarding rental costs, scheduling, and how night events are handled.

Local groups would have priority in renting space, either across various times and days, or on a set schedule if needed.

Travel teams could also use the facility depending on space availability. The option of late night games is also being explored, either by hiring a site supervisor or letting an authorized adult from the organization be in charge of making sure the facility is maintained and locked up.

As far as costs go, it could cost youth leagues less than the alternatives. Bernat said currently it costs DGAL $12,000 to $14,000 to rent out space from the school district.

“I think that’s the idea is for all of the youth to kind of share those costs, but you’re focusing more on one building and I think the cost will be less than what you pay the schools,” said Joan Britto, a member of the Parks Board.

The facility could also be used by non-sports organizations, like the Council on Aging or summer camps, board members suggested. The idea just makes sense, Parks Board member Joe Vieira said.

“The beauty of this is more flexibility,” Vieira said. “We found out we’re pretty flexible with a lot of this because everybody who’s on this side of the table has been involved in youth sports or are still involved somewhere down the road, so we feel the pain.”

The next step is to get all of the leagues together to go in front of the Select Board to secure a land transfer of the property to the Parks Department. Once it happens, a more detailed building design would be created. Finally, the cost to build the center and financing details would be worked out.

After talking to the board, Bernat was very interested in supporting the idea.

“I’ll make sure our part gets done,” he said.