It's been a while since any news has been posted about the Rec Center Campaign. Significant efforts to promote the campaign had been put on hold while a recreation master plan was developed for Westford. Westford's recreation master plan was accepted by the Parks and Recreation Commission in March. The plan may be viewed here on the town's website. The executive summary is available here. The Parks and Rec Commission will be doing a short presentation on the results of the recreation master plan at town meeting on April 2nd.
The good news that came out of the master plan was a recommendation to conduct a needs assessment and feasibility study for an indoor recreation center that includes an aquatic component, gymnasium, fitness rooms, rowing tank training, community meeting room space and classrooms for programs. This item scored very high in interest with the community survey and public input process. It is great that master plan showed support from the community for a recreation center.
Over Feb and March the Rec Dept and Parks and Rec Commission faced a number of challenges. In addition to getting the master plan completed, the Park and Rec Dept lost the use of their building at 35 Town Farm Rd. As result there was a bit of scramble to find alternative emergency space and to put together a RFP to find new space to lease for the Park and Rec Department's short term use. All this had to coincide with getting the annual town meeting warrant together for April's town meeting.
During some of the Park and Rec Commission meetings and the Board of Selectmen meetings in Feb and March there were discussions about trying to secure more permanent space for the recreation department, however the Selectmen were interested in doing a feasibility study before looking for longer term solutions. There were some discussions about trying to get funding for a feasibility study on the annual town meeting warrant, but there just was not enough time to do that. The Selectmen were also very concerned with the cost of any new recreation facility and how the town can fund that as well as all the other large capital projects (library, Roudenbush, fire station etc) that are looming on the horizon. As a result the Selectmen voiced a desire to have a public discussion on capital prioritization during the towns annual strategic planning retreat held at Kimball Farm. The retreat is currently planned for June 16, 2016 so mark your calendars.
What does this all mean for the campaign to bring a recreation center to Westford? If there is an opportunity at the strategic planning retreat to show town leadership a desire from the community to have a recreation center then anyone who is interested must make their best effort to attend (you get a free dinner and ice cream!) and make their voices heard.
As news about the strategic planning retreat comes available we will get that out to you. Please plan on attending and supporting a recreation center for Westford.
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