The South Burlington City Council has approved a ballot item for the November 6th General Election that asks voters for permission to incur debt for a new Library, Senior Center, Clerk’s Office, Auditorium and City Hall (collectively – Community Center) that is planned for construction next Spring on Market Street. If approved by the voters, the new facility will be adjacent to the Allard Square senior housing project and at the south end of the Rick Marcotte Central School parking lot.
The new Community Center is expected to serve the public for the next 100 years as a governmental center as well as a place to gather, socialize and engage in educational and other activities. Public projects of this nature have been part of the planning for South Burlington’s City Center for decades and this is the next phase in public investment following the reconstruction of Market Street and the creation of City Center Park.
The primary funding sources for the community center will be Tax Increment Financing (TIF) revenues provided to South Burlington by the State and reserve funds that are being accumulated every year as part of the general fund. The result is that no additional property taxes will be required from South Burlington residents to pay for the debt on this project.
The centerpiece of the new Community Center will be a modern, 21st century library that combines traditional library services with technology, activity and maker spaces and gathering areas for the public. The library of today and tomorrow functions more as a multi-purpose and flexible gathering area for the public and the design of the community center is based on that principle.
The new building also meets the needs of the Community’s senior population by providing enrichment and activity spaces in a new modern setting along with a more quiet area for seniors to gather and socialize. A small kitchen will also support the very popular weekly lunch for seniors and other social events.
A new City Hall as part of the complex will house multiple Municipal functions to include the City Clerk’s office. A small auditorium that will seat up to 120 people meets the needs for small performance and lecture space as well as City Council and committee meetings.
The Council is pleased to have reached an agreement with the School Board to acquire an easement to School District property at the far south end of the Rick Marcotte Central School parking lot. This land will provide room for parking, utilities and other needs of the building such as direct access to the Senior Center and a walking connection between the School and Library.
In return for the approximately .7 acres of the Central School parking lot, the City will lease the current City Hall to the School District at a nominal rate to house administrative services immediately across Dorset Street from the Frederick Tuttle Middle School and the South Burlington High School. There will be no reduction in parking spaces for the Central School. This agreement was the culmination of a great deal of collaborative work between the City Council and School Board.
In addition to incurring debt for the new Community Center, the agreement on the property exchange between the City Council and School Board must also be approved by the voters in November.
If approved by the voters this Community amenity will be the third public investment in City Center following the completion of City Center Park and the ongoing construction of Market Street. City Center Park was 100% funded through TIF revenues and funding for Market Street came from several sources including a Federal earmark and TIF. Like the proposed Community Center, no additional funds were required from the property taxpayer for these projects.