Plymouth is nearing completion of its long-running plan to renovate and dramatically expand the city’s 20-year-old community center.
The estimated $50 million project has been in the works since 2016, when the city did a feasibility study and found that the 30,000-square-foot community center was at maximum capacity for the population, which had grown by 13,000 since the facility opened in 1999.
Although the final design won’t be approved by the City Council until fall, some of the proposed amenities include gymnasiums, an indoor playground, fitness studios, an art gallery and music rooms. Construction is expected to begin late next year.
“The City Council understands this is an opportunity to build the right facility for our 80,000 residents,” said Parks and Recreation Director Diane Evans. “We want to make sure what we put here will represent Plymouth and the community well.”
To pay for the 111,000-square-foot center, city officials plan to raise property taxes and seek $15 million in bonding from the Legislature. The owner of a $300,000 home would see a tax increase of about $80 a year, according to the city’s website.
Evans said officials made a great effort to engage the community in the planning process, including three open houses, five events, mailings and an online survey. More than 200 people attended an open house Tuesday, and 800 people responded to the online survey.
At least one resident, Kerry Anderson, wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper calling the expansion “overkill” and saying that he would rather have the money spent on road improvements.
The community center, known as the Plymouth Creek Center, contains small classrooms and a ballroom. A soccer field, covered with a fabric dome for use during the winter, is adjacent to the building.
About 300,000 people last year visited the center, which hosts a variety of activities such as weddings, training events and art lessons in addition to recreational and senior programs. There are 75 activities each week and 14,500 hours of facility reservations.
While the focus of much of the proposed expansion is athletic activities, the center also would have designated spaces for seniors and other groups, a dance studio, party rooms and a renovated ballroom and theater, said center manager Chris Fleck. The design allows for flexibility in the future, he said.
Evans said the city is still reviewing the survey data, but right now it appears pretty favorable. Officials looked at community centers in other cities, “but we are building a center based on what the community thinks we need,” she said.
For example, the indoor playground would be larger in scale than similar ones in other cities, she said.
“We want it to feel like an outdoor playground since we have so many months of winter,” she said.