WINDHAM — Planning firm Harriman presented three design concepts for a future community center, a project “that Windham deserves,” at a community forum last week.

The Dec. 3 forum, held in Town Council chambers, was hosted by the Parks and Recreation Department. Representatives from Harriman — Senior Urban Planner Emily Innes, Project Architect Sharon Ames and Principal Mark Lee — presented three examples that varied in size, cost and amenities, among other details.

A community center has been in the works for a number of years. In June, an ad hoc committee was formed to focus on the project.

At the event, attendees received ballot cards to write down what they thought of each design and were given time to study each concept, ask questions and provide feedback.

Ames said in an interview Wednesday that the three designs were examples pulled from Harriman’s portfolio. “We presented example projects in order for folks to understand the scale. Those were then mapped out on the project site to just help give a point of reference,” she said.

All three of the designs locate the new community center on a town-owned parcel of land located at the intersection of Routes 302 and 202 known as the Morrell Property. Lee said Harriman has not considered other sites.

According to Town Councilor Jarrod Maxfield, the site was intended to be used for the expansion of nearby Smith Cemetery when the town purchased it years ago.

“To date, we purchased the land, but no one has come up with a plan or executed it for the cemetery expansion. The town owns it, so we wouldn’t have to spend money to purchase more land for the community center. We have to make sure both things can live there harmoniously,” he said.

Ames said the ad hoc committee offered the site to Harriman as the location for the center. While she was not certain the site will be the center’s location, “that’s the site that we’ve been asked to push forward.”

Another community forum was held in September to discuss what activities and types of spaces residents would like in the future community center.

Innes said the top amenities residents indicated they wanted were a three-court gym and track, two pools and wellness centers for adults, kids and seniors.

A third forum will be held in March when, Ames said, Harriman will present a more finished design and gather feedback in order to create a final design. She predicted the final concept will be completed in April.

Ames said Harriman has received good feedback from the community, which it will use to create a new design “that is suitable to the site.”

The ad hoc committee, meanwhile, will begin to tackle cost and fundraising opportunities, according to Pat Moody, chair of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee and member of the ad hoc committee.

He said the community is passionate about the community center.

“Windham has really outgrown our infrastructure in a lot of ways. We need to invest in our community,” he said.

Maxfield agrees, saying a community center is “something that Windham deserves, and we need to see some things we can appreciate and enjoy with our tax dollars.”

The process of contructing the center will take years more to complete.

Moody said that at the first planning meeting this fall, “Harriman said we’re somewhere between three and five years to being able to bounce a ball in the gymnasium.”

Parks and Recreation Director Linda Brooks could not be reached for comment.

Jane Vaughan can be reached at 780-9103 or at [email protected]

This concept, one of three designed for the Windham Community Center, includes high-school level athletic fields and a playground.

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