Newport adds $1 million for rec center to capital reserve fund


Valley News Correspondent

Published: 04-04-2024 6:00 PM

NEWPORT — Voters at this week’s deliberative session added $1 million to the capital reserve fund for recreation facilities.

The added money will not be raised from taxes and instead will come from federal and state funds the town anticipates receiving for the new recreation facility now under construction.

Construction on the $9.2 million, 20,000-square-foot center on Meadow Road began late last year. It is moving ahead on budget and pretty much on schedule though the recent storms will likely push back the planned November opening by a few weeks, Newport Finance Director Paul Brown said on Thursday.

The total cost includes construction and professional fees of about $9 million, plus other costs such as permitting, hazardous material abatement, furniture and contingency.

The project is being funded by a variety of sources, including $4.8 million from the USDA Rural Development Program and $1 million from InvestNH, which the town is slated to receive in exchange for approval of two workforce housing projects expected to bring more than 100 new rental units to Newport.

InvestNH’s $100 million is funded through the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, and State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, or SLFRF, and is aimed at addressing the housing shortage in New Hampshire. Eligible projects receive $10,000 per unit. In Newport, 42 units on Spring Street are available for lease and another 70 units will be available once renovations to the former Ruger Mill on Sunapee Street are finished.

Brown said Thursday he expects the Executive Council will approve the money from InvestNH at its meeting on April 10 and the town should receive it not long after.

The town’s recreation project also qualified for $1 million from the state’s $20 million Community Center Investment Program that was announced in 2022 and is being administered by the Community Finance Development Authority, Brown said. However, he said, the money ran out before Newport’s project could be funded. District 2 Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, a Democrat, is expected to ask Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, for an additional $3.9 million to fund about six projects, which qualified but did not receive any money, Brown added.

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The biggest chunk of funding, $4.8 million through the USDA Rural Development program, continues to work its way through the approval process. The application has been accepted as complete and is now in a review phase, Brown said. In the meantime, there is sufficient money on hand to continue with construction, he said.

The new center is to have a 9,000-square-foot gym with seating for 500 and multipurpose, fitness and game rooms. It will be available for sports and activities including dancing, movies, a walking club, birthday parties, club meetings and lectures, as well as basketball, pickleball, wrestling and indoor soccer.

Bond votes for the project were defeated at town meeting in 2019 and 2022. With no tax dollars being requested this time, the Selectboard approved its construction without voter approval and said it would not ask for tax dollars to fund it.

In addition to the USDA and InvestNH money, the town has $3.2 million in pledges, of which $2.5 million has been received.

The only other change to the 16 articles on the warrant at the town’s deliberative session on Tuesday was to replace the word Historic District Commission with Heritage District Commission and combine it with the Monuments and Memorial Committee.

The warrant, with a budget of $11.5 million and several appropriations for capital reserve funds, will go to voters on May 14 during all-day balloting.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at