Tonight’s Architectural Review Board (ARB) meeting will hear a presentation about a new sports facility that, according to its owners, will be a major attraction and will bring people to Wilton from Westchester County, New Haven, New Fairfield and beyond.
The founders of Northeast Volleyball Club (NEVBC) will informally propose the construction of a new, 28,000-sq.-ft., six-court indoor volleyball center at Four Seasons Racquet Club during a pre-application review to the ARB on Thursday, June 3 at 5 p.m.
Cat Dailey Minyard and her husband Garrett Minyard founded NEVBC after years of playing professional volleyball.
Cat, who grew up in southern California, was surprised by how few people played volleyball in Connecticut. “When I got here, I was like, ‘Where are all the courts?'” she told GMW.
As volleyball has increased in popularity in the area, the couple has felt the need to help “take volleyball to the next level” with their own athletic club.
Four Seasons leased the Minyards two of their 21 total tennis courts and NEVBC was launched in 2018.
Since then, “We’ve seen a ton of growth, both within our club and also with volleyball in Wilton and the surrounding areas,” said Cat. “In the last few years, it’s really exploded.”
The club has outgrown its current space and the Minyards are seeking to construct a new six-court volleyball building on the northern portion of the Four Seasons property where there are currently outdoor tennis courts.
The informal materials say a mix of 11 indoor tennis courts, six outdoor tennis courts, and six indoor volleyball courts would “be an appropriate mix to allow the two organizations to continue to offer year-round tennis and volleyball to the Wilton regional communities.”
They argue that the new building will provide significant benefits to the town and its neighbors.
The benefits of the facility are summarized in the documents: “[the building] provides K through 12 year-round athletics for hundreds of children and teens; NEVBC complements the Wilton schools’ athletic programs (hours and seasons do not coincide); creates a center of wellness and activity for student-athletes from Wilton and surrounding towns; enhances a strong tradition of Wilton athletics; creates a place to study and do homework or just be with friends before or after practices and games; teaches time management; instills self-confidence, self-esteem and therefore happiness; maintains basic fitness and builds strength and endurance; enhances the college application prospects for dozens of young people each year.”
Cat expanded on the benefits and explained how the new building would bring in people from neighboring towns. She said parents of the athletes in NEVBC’s programs have told her they often plan their errands for the week around their trip to Wilton.
“The kids will get dropped off and the parents [from other towns] will go to Caraluzzi‘s or Village Market or Stop and Shop to do their shopping. They’ll go to the local coffee shop or they’ll go out with another parent and grab a drink,” said Cat.
She talked about how strengthening volleyball programs in Wilton would enhance the town’s tradition of athletics.
“Wilton has a strong tradition of athletics from what I know about the high school and I think this adds to that with a sport that has kind of gone under the radar,” she said.
Cat was excited about the opportunity to expand a place that has brought people joy.
“It’s a positive, happy place for a lot of people. Kids tell me that all the time ‘This is my happy place!’
At Thursday’s Architectural Review Board meeting, members will discuss the design, aesthetics, location and purpose of the proposed building in a conversation that’s considered informal and non-binding. A pre-application review is a preliminary discussion of a potential project for both applicant and officials to ask questions, gauge response and exchange information in order to help facilitate an eventual formal application process. During a pre-application review, nothing presented by the applicant nor suggested by a board member or town official is considered binding.
The Minyards will possibly hold a similar pre-application review with other town boards, including the Planning and Zoning Commission for feedback on land-use and zoning questions.
Once the proposal moves to a formal application process, the Minyards hope Wilton residents will submit public comments in support of the project.
Correction: the article and headline were corrected to reflect that the building’s area is 28,000 sq. ft. and not 113,000 sq. ft. as was seen on a site plan.