by Charles Kral, PAW Writer
Maybe it was the persuasive personality of Providence Academy Headmaster Dr. Todd Flanders, or maybe Plymouth city leaders appreciate classic architecture. But whatever the reason, the Plymouth City Council overruled its own Zoning Board and approved the entranceway for the new PA sports complex. The vote was 6-0.
Council members overturned a 4-1 vote by the Planning Commission against the new concession stand and fieldhouse. The Commission rejected PA’s application because the 57 foot high central tower exceeds the 15 foot height restriction for “accessory buildings.” Dr. Flanders contended it was part of the overall complex. “I hoped it could stand alone,” said Dr. Flanders, “I was surprised that the city deemed it as an accessory building.”
The 15 foot height restriction is new, passed into law about two years ago. City officials approved the design for the fieldhouse in 2013, before the zoning change. “The 15 foot height restriction on accessory buildings is to make sure that your neighbor couldn’t build a huge garage that wasn’t attached to their house,” Dr. Flanders explained, “we were able to explain to the city that the new field house would only be the fifth tallest building on campus and would help add more character and would help hide the dome.”
Some neighbors living adjacent to the sports complex urged the Commission to reject the fieldhouse. At a public hearing, residents expressed concern about traffic, bright lights, noise, and obstruction of their view by the dome. One complained that “the size and scope of their athletics facilities seems, quite frankly, ridiculous.” Another expressed frustration at the loss of trees that had to be cut down for construction.
“The architecture fits with the rest of the school,” said Dr. Flanders, “the tower in the middle provides an aesthetic point the same as the school.” The City Council apparently agreed.
The field house will have many perks. The lower level will feature two locker rooms and an entrance into the dome. The main level will have an inside concessions area and will also have a stage where performances like Coffee House can be hosted. The top level will have an 11-thousand square foot patio that will be able to host receptions for alumni, parents, and other groups. The field house will be a new focal point of the sports complex as well as the school itself.
While the sports complex is expected to be ready for the fall season, completion of the fieldhouse is probably a year away. “This is possible thanks to many generous people contributing greatly,” said Dr. Flanders, “I’m just excited to get it all underway.”