In volleyball parlance, a group representing a proposed volleyball facility for Wilton “made a kill” at the Thursday, June 3 meeting of the Architectural Review Board (ARB). The board members universally praised the proposed 28,000-sq.-ft., six-court indoor volleyball center that Northeast Volleyball Club owners Garret and Cat Dailey Minyard hope to build at the Four Seasons Racquet Club.
In an informal meeting called a pre-application review, the ARB members discussed the design, aesthetics, location, and purpose of the proposed building with the Minyards and their design and legal representatives. The conversation is considered an informal opportunity 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.
Cat Minyard began the presentation with how the building would serve the club’s players and the greater community.
“With this facility, we would be creating a true hub for the growing volleyball community and continue to serve the Wilton families and bring people into Wilton as well,” she began.
“One of the great things that we’ve experienced here is, is watching players through our program grow up and go through some transitional phases in their lives and always have volleyball there to help guide them. We’ve had kids as young as first grade going all the way through high school and we’ve seen our players set off to college as well. One thing that has been consistent throughout is that our current club here at the Four Seasons has acted as a home for them. That is something we are hoping to provide them with more of with this new building,” Garret continued
Architect Phil Clark then reviewed the design aspects of the building. He explained that in addition to the six volleyball courts the building would also feature a 4,000 sq. ft. mezzanine level that overlooks the courts with seats for spectators.
The complex is also set to house a fitness room, conference room, training room, offices for staff, bathrooms, and storage space.
Clark explained that one of the challenges of the project is to make such a large building appear smaller and more attractive to the eye. To achieve this, the design firm selected a white and gray color palette and translucent wall panels, all of which, he said, increase light and give the appearance that the building is not as large.
Clark also discussed a series of architectural elements — the building’s lower middle section and flat roof, horizontal lines — that would help reduce the project’s height and achieve the desired visual effect of decreasing the building’s mass.
Craig Flaherty, the civil engineer on the project, explained that in order to fit the new volleyball building on site, the outdoor pool at Four Seasons would be removed. He added that it would allow for ample parking along with a circular driveway area for cars to pick up and drop-off off players.
Board member Laura Perese commented in support of the building. “This project seems visually to fit well within the narrative of [the Rte. 7] area,” she said, referring to the Four Season tennis facility that will share the same campus as well as to another current application — the proposed CT Humane Society building further north on Rte. 7 — with similar modern design elements.
Perese reminded the presenters to be aware of landscaping. “Just making sure to shout out to pollinator and perennial plants, to make sure that those make an appearance, to make sure that we are really respecting nature around it,” she said.
ARB member Kevin Quinlan also enthusiastically supported the project. “I like everything that the presentation showed a lot and I’m all for it,” he said. “From the town’s standpoint, from the holistic standpoint, I think it’s a fantastic thing to have the volleyball facility in town.”
Rob Sanders, the ARB chairman, suggested installing solar panels on the roof of the building. “You could make a nice dent in your energy footprint if you see if you can integrate those into the design. Wilton is trying to be a reasonable leader amongst urban towns in its energy profile.”
He concluded by telling the Minyards and their design team that he thought they were “off to a great start.”
The next step planned by the pre-applicants will be to make a similar presentation to the Planning and Zoning Commission before coming back with a formal application.