By Michelle Wagner | Outer Banks Voice on August 11, 2022
Anticipating an application by Dare County for the construction of a new 4,000-square foot youth center at the former Masonic Lodge site on U.S. 64, the Manteo Planning Board on August 9 approved a zoning text amendment that adds youth centers to a list of special use permits approved by the commissioners.
Construction of the proposed youth center, which would involve razing the existing Masonic Lodge built in 1970 and erecting a new facility, is estimated to cost $1.7 million. The site, purchased by Dare County in 2021, is located along the highway between Agona and Fernando streets and is designed to address the growing needs of the youth program on the island.
Youth center programs, operated by Dare County Parks & Recreation, have had a few temporary homes and are currently housed in an office building on U.S. 64 near Manteo Elementary School.
The proposed new building would include a multi-purpose room, office space, classroom space, a game room, kitchen and restrooms and would have a playground on site as well as 15 parking spaces.
“The largest space in this program, the multipurpose room, needs to suit a variety of functions ranging from after-school activities to holiday and summer day-long programs,” the report by the Oakley Collier Architects stated. “We anticipate a need for 80 children to be present at maximum capacity.”
Oakley Collier has been hired by Dare County and submitted an assessment and recommendations for the site earlier this year. Based on its assessment, the architects recommended a new construction project rather than remodeling the current building, which would be more costly.
According to the assessment, new construction would be the most desirable option because of the age, complexity and cost associated with a renovation, as well as the possibility of unpredictable and costly issues rising within the current infrastructure.
As part of its recommendation, the architectural firm stated that, “A new building will provide a completely new life cycle with a more functional layout so that the space may be used to its full potential. With a new layout, we are able to adhere to Manteo requirements for parking and building design, provide effective site circulation, and ensure a long building life with a completely new and reliable infrastructure.”
Barnhill Contracting is the construction manager of the project and is currently in the process of getting an accurate cost estimate for the project, according to Dare County Project Manager Dustin Peele.
Elements such horizontal siding, pitched roofs, picket fences and other features have been incorporated into the design of the facility to fit in with similar Manteo architecture.