Northern Essex Community College Considers Private Partnership for Sports Building, Fields Upgrades

Northern Essex Community College Haverhill campus. (Courtesy photograph.)

Northern Essex Community College is turning to the private sector to potentially address about $9 million in deferred maintenance at its more than 50-year-old Sports and Fitness Center and surrounding athletic fields at its Haverhill campus.

A little less than two weeks ago, the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance reached out to businesses and organizations about leasing the property, while giving the institution “primary or privileged use” to accommodate its athletics department and police academy.

“Building D has various deferred maintenance needs, including accessibility upgrades and out-of-date mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. The adjacent athletic fields, including a baseball field, softball field and asphalt track, suffer from drainage issues and do not meet the campus’ needs,” concludes the state request for “potential partners with the capacity to design, permit, finance, construct and operate facility improvements…”

A partner would have the option to renovate or completely replace the building.

The college plans to add women’s basketball and, potentially, women’s soccer, women’s softball, men’s volleyball, flag football and wrestling. Should a partner be found, the state said Northern Essex could add certificate and degree programs in personal training, nutrition, sports management, physical therapy and other “hands-on health and wellness offerings.”

Should the college achieve its goal, it could offer field time for city and local youth leagues, healthy and sustainable food options and affordable childcare.

According to the state request, potential private sector partners may include athletic facilities, gyms, fitness centers and community centers; competitive sports programming, including baseball, soccer, softball, etc.; childcare services and programs; healthy food services and advertising ancillary to the main sports and fitness uses; and physical therapy, sports medicine and other health and wellness facilities.

The request for information does not constitute an invitation to submit final proposals. Instead, the state writes, information received will help it write “an RFP or other procurement vehicle that would allow it to enter a long-term lease of the property, via a competitive developer selection process.”

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