• Manchester unveils year-round multi-purpose building
    By HELEN WHYTE | June 25,2013
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    LEE KROHN One of the first events to be held at the Park House in Manchester was a celebratory launch of Restaurant Week.
    Faced with repairing or replacing a decrepit single-purpose pool house, the Town of Manchester has built an attractive, multi-purpose, energy-efficient building to serve the town throughout the year.

    Completed on time and on budget, Park House greatly expands the range of activities that can take place in Dana L. Thompson Memorial Park.

    The project bears the fingerprints of a large number of local businesses and individuals. When the severity of the problems at the old pool house became clear, town leaders established a committee of citizens to look into replacement options.

    Funds donated from the Right Track Foundation were combined with funds from the town’s capital improvement reserve and contingency fund to prepare a conceptual design and cost estimates. A $1.5 million bond was approved by voters during the 2012 town meeting; another $50,000 was approved at the 2013 town meeting for enhancements including a pool sound system, gas fireplace, and improved parking-lot lighting.

    “The building was designed for minimum use of energy and maximum flexibility of use,” said Manchester Town Manager John O’Keefe. Its orientation offers substantial solar gain. Ample insulation and a radiant-heat system make for comfortable year-round use. The bathrooms and changing rooms use natural ventilation and heat-recovery systems.

    Light fixtures are either light-emitting diodes or fluorescent; light sensors and motion-sensors minimize the use of electricity. Low-flow toilets are equipped with the latest technology to reduce water use. The new water pumping system uses a fraction of the energy required of the old pump.

    The Breadloaf Corporation of Middlebury won the overall construction bid, and numerous local businesses served as sub-contractors. Lawrence White Construction of Danby demolished the old building, installed the septic system and did site work; Frost Wells and Pumps of East Dorset drilled the new well; and GSK Climate Control of East Dorset provided plumbing and heating design and installation.

    Bennington House of Tile and Carpet installed flooring and carpeting; Dibble Painters, Inc. of Landgrove provided interior and exterior painting; Mountain Telecom, Inc. of Manchester designed and installed the communications and sound systems; Southern Vermont Computer Services of Manchester Center installed the computer systems; Brook Valley Appliance of Manchester Center provided appliances; and most building materials were purchased from r.k. Miles of Manchester Center.

    Mike Kilburn, a member of the citizen committee, came up with one of the best ideas for maximizing the space’s efficiency and flexibility. By designing a series of doors, the bathrooms can be configured to be open and usable by pool patrons and others in the building, and by people who enter the building directly. This means the bathrooms are available to users of Applejack Field and to others in Dana L. Thompson Memorial Park.

    “This aspect of the facility was key to attracting the Vermont Voltage Premier Soccer Club to Applejack Field, a bonus that will undoubtedly bring favorable notoriety and economic benefits to the town,” said O’Keefe.

    One feature of the new building that greatly expands its use is the 900-square-foot activity room with a kitchenette. Separated from the lobby by sliding barn doors that open wide, the room offers a gathering place for all ages. A large-screen television donated by the Lions Club, with an integrated Wii program donated by the Manchester Leo’s Club, and a gas fireplace add to the room’s ambiance.

    “Fitness classes, intergenerational activities, and summer camp programs are just a few of the activities that will take place here,” said Liz Ambuhl, director of parks and recreation. When not in use for town programs, the activity room is available to rent by individuals, businesses and organizations.

    While the swimming pool is scheduled to open June 13, the Park House is already in use. A March 30 Easter Egg Hunt and an April 9 launch party for Manchester’s Restaurant Week were among early events to showcase this new facility to Manchester residents. Visit www.manchester-vt.gov or call 802.362.1439 for more details.
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