THE FUTURE OF RECREATION IN COLCHESTER:
PLANNING TODAY FOR OUR COMMUNITY TOMORROW
Colchester is an active and growing community. Residents are asking for expanded recreation facilities and a community center that can become the heart of the Town. For years, various community groups have tried to create a plan for expanded recreation facilities and a community center but lack of consensus and limited funding sources stymied efforts to go forward. We are now at a pivotal moment when we have the opportunity to begin creating the Bayside Park that the community desires and to make Colchester a “must visit” recreation destination for tourists to the Champlain Valley. This is not just a recreation opportunity; it’s an economic one that will revitalize our historic commercial center and allow our business community to prosper.
Nine months ago the Town sought the expertise of a parks and recreation consulting firm, GreenPlay, LLC, to begin a Master Plan project. They conducted a sweeping needs assessment for a Community Health & Wellness Center by: Touring and evaluating potential locations for expansion including Bayside Park, the Bayside /Hazelett properties, Severance Corners, and others; Meeting with residents, Town officials and staff, and citizen focus groups; Hosting two public forums at the Colchester High School; and Conducting a statistically valid survey available online and mailed to over 3,000 Colchester households.
Survey responses confirmed the nearly daily requests Parks and Recreation receives for expanding our recreation programs and park facilities. GreenPlay concluded that:Bayside Park and the nearby 14-acre Bayside/ Hazelett property (which the Town acquired almost ten years ago) have the most potential to meet the needs of the community. Expanded amenities should include:
o Amphitheater to host concerts
o Pickleball and volleyball courtso Community center with indoor/outdoor water features
o Dog parko Athletic fields, Frisbee golf, green spaces, picnic areas
o Pedestrian connections and trails.
The immediate next steps to refine the Master Plan are:Solidify the big picture by circling back to residents and parks users for their inputDetail a multi-year, phased-in approach to development and prioritize which amenities are to be built firstDetermine where important infrastructure (roads, sewers, stormsewers, etc.) should be placed now that we have a vision for the Bayside Park and Hazelett propertiesIdentify funding sources and create a strategy for paying for the phases to include:
o Partnerships and grants
o Impact fees and the local option tax o A capital campaign
o Future user fees to fund staffing and ongoing maintenance
Town officials and staff will seek continual feedback from the public as the project progresses. Your views on the subject will matter greatly.
To read the full details of the Bayside Park Master Plan see the Town Newsletter for 9.23.16 on our website: http://colchestervt.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/419