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Is Building Community Center Feasible?

The Community Center Task Force will ask the Barrington Town Council on Sept. 10 to approve a financial feasibility study before it takes any more steps.

Is it feasible financially to build a community center in Barrington?

The Community Center Task Force wants to find out. It will recommend to the Town Council on Sept. 10 that a consultant be hired to do just that.

The cost of the feasibility study will be around $23,000, according to the two proposals favored by the task force. The group is still checking with references to make a final decision.

Donor by Design Group, a national consulting firm out of Chicago with offices in four other cities across the country, and Hanna Street Consulting, a regional firm out of Providence, are the top choices.

“We have two excellent candidates,” said Margaret Kane, chairwoman of the task force. “It’s a tough decision.”

The task force will meet again on Tuesday afternoon to pick a consultant and recommend the firm to the councilors.

The task force was formed several years ago by the Town Council to explore the creation of a community center in Barrington. Financing for the center is expected to come primarily from a fundraising campaign, although a bond issue could be floated as well with approval at a Financial Town Meeting.

“How much is realistic to set for a fundraising goal?” said Kane.  “Can we get individual donors? It will tell us if building a community center is really feasible.”

Building an addition to the Bayside YMCA on West Street, which just began its own expansion project, is the preferred location for a community center because the Senior Center already offers numerous programs through the YMCA. The senior center is seen as relocating to the community center.

“It’s the logical location,” said Kane.

Town Planner Phil Hervey agrees because the YMCA is on bus lines and it is centrally located in Barrington.

But the community center also is seen as teen center as well, said Kane.

Within three months of a consultant signing a contract with the Town Council, Hervey said, the town can expect the results of the feasibility study. It could be the start of a bricks-and-mortar project or the end of several years of discussions and exploration about the facility.

Manifold Witness August 31, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Intelligent government folks have worked on this for years. Please answer these questions BEFORE the vote: Approximate capital costs? Paving, parking, utilities, etc? Donations? Maybe. Who does the fundraising? Fees for that? Bond costs? Debt service? Competing with necessary road repaving? Location convenient for busing people in. What are the logistics on that? What are the projected utilization demographics? What programs are envisioned? Is it for Barrington residents or is regional utilization anticipated? Revenue other than bonds and Barrington taxes? Will fees be charged? Pro forma financials, please? Impact to the surrounding neighborhoods? This will be in addition to other plans such as to revamp the YMCA (Barrington contributes for the regional recreation), the new beach house, there is currently a Senior Center , a town recreation program, plans for Police Cove Fantasy Land, the add for the full time Director of Leisure Services, etc.? Any staff salaries & benefits in addition to the full time Director of Leisure? Or is this the sole cart before this horse? Because once we have a full time Director of Leisure Services, gosh, the Leisure Director is going to need a place to leisurize everyone, right? If qualified people have been working on this for years, we assume that they can answer these simple questions without paying someone else $23,000. We just need some rough numbers, please, before this goes to the $23,000 stage.
Henry Doyle September 02, 2012 at 02:55 PM
We can't afford NOT to have a community center. The worst thing that could happen to a bedroom community like Barrington is for everyone to shut themselves in. They go to work, hit the box stores on the strip, and go home. That's not healthy. Let's build our community. The financial cost is minuscule compared to the cost of losing our sense of community. Plus local teens need to feel there is somewhere to go other than the dumpster behind Dunkin' Donuts.
Patches September 10, 2012 at 04:39 PM
People do not need a community center to talk to each other. The the life you describe for Barrington residents may be your life or you description of life in order to fill your agenda but it is not ours I am insulted at the zombie life you describe for such a vibrant engaged comunity. If the financial cost is minuscule you should pay for it yourself. The rest of us are having our economic troubles and cant afford another tax increase to pay for you vision of comumity
Gary Morse September 10, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Patches, Your points are well taken in this dismal economy. This brings up a central question, how are we prioritizing our needs in the Barrington community. I heard from our majority council members (Councilors Speakman and Weymouth) in the July 2012 council meeting that in order to make affordable housing rentals work in town, all of the residents had to pitch in together to subsidize the affordable property taxes even if they don't have to. The average tax bill in town is now over $9000 per year. An affordable "condo" being rented out pays as low as $500 per year in total annual property taxes. That subsidy will continue as more and more projects are brought on line. The issue is prioritizing our needs in town. If you think taxes are high now, best to consider your vote in November.
Ignorance is not bliss September 10, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Not only does the town want the taxpayers to subsidize affordable housing the state does as well. The budget for the next fiscal year includes a provision to borrow $25 million for affordable housing, a bond issue that would have to be approved by voters in November. VOTE "NO" for hte affordable housing bond and elect new town council memebers!

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