Land Exchange Proposal Advances Vision for City Center Library, Recreation, City Hall

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Thursday August 10, 2017

A proposal for the city and school district to trade small tracts of land would allow each entity to move forward with creative plans for the future as City Center begins to take shape. A Letter of Intent signed by city council Monday, August 7 spells out the details of the exchange, which would pave the way for a multi-purpose municipal building to serve as the cornerstone to City Center. The plan for a library, recreation facility and a city hall, all under one roof off of Market Street, advances the vision of the long awaited City Center.

An exchange of the two City Center properties, which are each less than an acre in size, would provide the school district with a new permanent access road into Rick Marcotte Central School from the Midas Drive area. The city-owned property is adjacent to nearly 12 acres of land owned by the school and the 0.83 acre tract would provide the ‘missing link’ needed to connect a driveway within proximity of the future Garden Street. The current driveway entrance from Market Street into Central School sits on an easement currently controlled by Snyder-Braverman, who owns the area between the school parking lot and Market Street, along with the adjacent property earmarked for their Cathedral Square project. The landowners have promised that Central School can retain their Market Street entry, but the new access point would allow for school traffic to avoid construction as Market Street develops.

The 0.7 acre tract received by the city would provide a portion of the land needed for the proposed community center in City Center. Voter support and other approvals would be needed to acquire the additional land needed for the project. Preliminary ideas envision an L-shaped structure designed to combine a new community library, a large indoor recreational facility and city administrative offices located between the Central School parking lot and Market Street, next to the proposed Cathedral Square project. The proposed agreement, once negotiated by city council and the school board, would go to the voters in March 2018.

The next step in this plan provides a creative solution for use of the current City Hall building once vacated by city administration and the Recreation and Parks department offices when they move to City Center. Utilizing an innovative idea for the city’s public resources, part of the agreement includes plans for the school district’s administrative offices to move from their current location at the middle school, across Dorset Street into the City Hall building. A Memorandum of Understanding regarding the district’s acquisition, lease and use of the current City Hall building is next on the list of steps in this game of hopscotch.

The Letter of Intent will be formally considered by the school board in the near future.