Concord hires design team for proposed community center on the Heights
Concord is again making moves toward an expansive new community center on the Heights.
The city has hired a design team to draw the first plans for the proposed 81,000-square-foot recreation building, which would include an indoor turf field, a gymnasium and space for day-care or preschool and senior programming. Chosen from 10 applicants, Concord-based H.L. Turner Group will lead the consultants that won the $122,000 contract.
Their work will be rooted in a 2011 study of Concord’s existing community centers, which recommended a multigenerational, citywide building on the site of the former Dame School. Last year, the city purchased the building on Canterbury Road from the Concord School District for $1. Otherwise, the city has been cautious to move forward on a construction project that would cost more than $11.6 million.
Mayor Jim Bouley stressed the need for a community center to serve residents of all ages, but he said the city still has a long way to go before breaking ground on the new space.
“I think there’s a need, but before we move forward with anything, it’s important to have a good community discussion,” Bouley said.
The Concord City Council approved nearly $130,000 in this year’s budget to do the design work, but that money will cover only the beginning plans. The councilors will need to approve more money for another phase of design and then for the construction itself. If the project gets a green light, construction is scheduled to begin in 2016.
“I think we’re still at the beginning phases,” Bouley said.
In the new center, the former 40,000-square-foot school building would be preserved in part. Only its older wing would be demolished, said Matt Walsh, director of redevelopment, downtown services and special projects.
“We’ll take a look at how the building is going to be laid out and reoriented, and build from that concept in 2011 and refine it,” Walsh said.
Since the council heard that concept in January 2011, Walsh said the city has needed to negotiate the purchase of the Dame School and wait for the right moment to move forward on this capital project.
“That’s basically why there’s a gap in time. . . . The new community center itself could be a $10 (million) to $11 million project, and it was really a matter of timing and when the city was in a position when it could afford to go forward with the design,” Walsh said.
The Parks and Recreation Department did move into the building, which is now known as the Heights Community Center. The city’s senior programs, ConcordTV and the East Concord Cooperative Preschool are also using that space.
David Gill, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, said he is glad the city is moving forward with the design work.
“I think it’s really exciting for the community to take the next step,” Gill said.
The new center would also include a dance and aerobics studio, a branch station for ConcordTV, outdoor patios, an indoor walking track and at least one gymnasium. The first set of designs should be completed in four to six months.
“I think the most exciting is the indoor turf field and the indoor walking (and) running track,” Gill said. “I think the year-round aspects of the sports we’re involved in – soccer, basketball, lacrosse a little bit – for the Concord community, I think that’s going to be a well-used recreational asset.”
(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)