Newtown Youth Academy in Newtown, Conn.
By Jim Ladesich
A private real estate developer's long-term involvement with youth sports and a desire to "give back" to his hometown community paved the way for a multi-million dollar indoor recreation complex—the Newtown Youth Academy (NYA).
"This was the long-term dream of Peter D'Amico," said Keith Miller, director of the NYA facility. "For years he had envisioned a state-of-the-art, affordable sports facility for the youth in our local community. The initial concept was for an indoor soccer field to facilitate year-round play, but local sports organizations made a strong case for a multi-sports center that could serve all age groups and a wide range of activities."
The NYA, which opened for business in November 2008, was built on just over two acres of the former Fairfield Hills State Hospital in Newtown, Conn., within a 189-acre campus. D'Amico had successfully negotiated an amendment to Newtown's Master Plan for the property. The area, originally reserved for open sports fields, became the first private investment in the campus redevelopment---an admirable cornerstone, city officials repeatedly have emphasized.
The program that produced the new sports center presents a model in "green building" methods that has earned LEED Silver Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED stands for USGBC's "Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design" program that provides benchmark design criteria, construction management methods and operational features subjected to a rigorous certification process for high-performance buildings.
A public/private agreement was reached in the fall of 2007 whereby the NYA received a 40-year lease with several renewal options. The design and construction were otherwise privately underwritten by D'Amico's nonprofit that extends' generously discounted rates for parks department programs in exchange for credits toward the lease payments. Today, memberships have reached 1,300 at the center.
As the scope of the facility grew, so did interest in building a "green building," according to Phil Clark, the project's architect.