The Hampton Hub

Frequently Asked Questions

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Third Place

What's a Third Place?

The “third place” idea breaks down your community into the places where you spend your daily life. Your first place is at home where ideally you have security and a sense of a safe harbor. Your second place is at work or school and then there is this third place.

“Third places” are the public places where people can gather, put aside the concerns of home and work and hang out simply for the pleasures of good company and lively conversation. They are the heart of a community’s social vitality and the grassroots of a democracy.

The third place is where you go to be with people, to interact with your community. It’s an anchor, a place to have experiences that are not dinner or homework or TV watching or to earn a wage. You’re not there completing a task for a specific purpose, or taking part in commerce, you’re there to engage with other people who are probably not members of your family and are not your coworkers.

Some hallmarks of a third place:

Neutral ground

A public, comfortable, freely-accessed, non-obligated place, conducive to fraternity

A leveling place

Fostering commonality over economic or social status divisions, where formal prerequisites for acceptance of participation are low or absent


Typically good, playful, humorous, and light-hearted. It is the main, but not necessarily, only activity

Open, accessible

It keeps long hours, is largely unplanned, and is accommodating and meeting of occupant’s needs

Unpretentious, clean, familiar

There is an accepting quality to the place


The tone of conversation in third places is never marked with tension or hostility. Instead, third places have a playful nature, where witty conversation and frivolous banter are not only common, but highly valued.

It is a home away from home

In terms of feelings of warmth, intimacy, possession, and belonging

Examples of third places include libraries, churches, community centers, civic clubs, parks and more. This is a concept that’s discussed all over the United States, and here in Hampton, based on several different ways of gathering data, we have heard that Hampton does not have enough spaces that would fit into that definition of the third place.

Our joint project hopes to address that need by offering a community center, the Hampton Hub, that will serve our multigenerational town.

The Basics

The Hampton Parks and Recreation Department offers a wide variety of events for all ages to the residents of the town of Hampton, NH. They also maintain town fields, playgrounds, and parks. The Lane Memorial Library has a full range of services to meet the informational, educational, cultural, and recreational needs of the Hampton community. Both town departments continue to hear from residents that there is a need for additional space in town to engage in community activities. This is a splendid opportunity to build one structure at the hub of our community that serves multiple departments and multiple segments of our population. The library could expand on its own, the Rec department could build a community center without the library, but in this need for public space we are very alike and very happy to unify our goals for the betterment of Hampton at a lower cost.

The current schedule calls for community input to take place during 2021 and 2022. The design and capital fundraising phases should be completed by the end of 2024. Construction of the new facility would take place during 2025-2026, with the community center opening in 2026. However, new construction must be synchronized with planned updates to the Wastewater Treatment plant, which should be completed first.

You tell us! We want and need to hear from you. There are opportunities coming up for you to participate in multiple ways – small community meetings, surveys, focus groups, etc. Sign up on our website to be kept informed on how you can participate.

The aging, suboptimal condition of much of our Library and Recreation Department’s physical buildings prevent them from being as efficient, effective and welcoming as they could be. These conditions have an impact upon safety, operating costs, and appropriate space usage. The Town’s Master Plan website has further information regarding why we need a community center at the hub of the Town of Hampton.

No! The original 1910-built portion of the current Library and the newer 1985 addition will be preserved. The intent is to integrate both portions of the current Library into a new community center. The Lane Library at the Hub. Planning for some light renovation and updates would be included in this project. The current library building will continue to house our books, offer a space to sit and relax, and be a cultural place for Hampton residents. The addition of a community center space will offer the library and Recreation Department the ability to host more events and have areas for teens, children, adults, and seniors.

The Tuck building will still be used for Recreation Department related activities. An increase to the Tuck building’s footprint for more activity space has been approved by the Board of Selectman and will be voted on in March 2022. This increased footprint encompasses a small office space, a small gathering room, and a large gathering room. Funding for this project is from the unassigned fund balance and recreation infrastructure account. There is zero tax impact for residents. This small footprint increase will be an immediate effort to offer space for events, but the creation of a community center will be the ultimate goal of both departments to have space for decades to come.

The creation of a community center at the hub of our town brings both department’s under one roof, where they can support each other’s events and operations. Current data from the library, the Rec Department, and the Planning Department suggest that people are very interested in exploring this community center idea. Reports, charrettes, and plans stretching back decades all have a similar central theme. Our town supports and wants public spaces.

The Hampton Public Library came into existence in 1881 when the privately funded Hampton Library Association agreed to donate its library to the town as a free public library. Howard Garland Lane, a wealthy merchant and landowner in town, who held various local offices throughout his lifetime paid for the construction of the first Hampton public library in 1910. This Hampton resident wanted the town’s library to be locally supported, when many town’s were accepting the construction of libraries by Andrew Carnegie.

The first physical structure for youth organized events in Hampton sprang from the Hampton Beach Riots of 1964! “Beach residents and youths also formed CAVE (Committee Against Violent Eruptions), a program meant to organize activities for youths. By the late ’60s, the CAVE program petered out. The shed where CAVE members met was eventually moved off the beach to Tuck Field, where it’s used for storage by the Hampton Youth Association and the Recreation Department.” The original Tuck building was constructed with funds from a private donor, who supported local youth baseball, to house baseball equipment. From 1960 until 2001, that structure was a simple wood framed building with a dirt floor, garage doors, and chicken wire on the windows. This served as the Recreation Department’s indoor space for decades and was used by summer camp participants and other events. The building was renovated in 2001 to be a climate-controlled, multi use space for the Recreation Department.

The Building

The exact location of the project is still to be determined, but both department’s feel that the center of our community is the place to be. Please let us know what you think! Since this effort is aimed at offering a community center in our town that residents can agree on, we’ll see what you have to say first.

At present there is around an acre of land adjacent to the library that sits squarely in the center of our town. This spot is where the former courthouse was located and could be a site for this project.

The Recreation Department and Library has a list, but we want to hear what you think as well! Reach out and let us know. 

Our dream list includes: A basketball court with 200-person capacity for big events, with a walking track above. Locker rooms. Medium sized multi-purpose rooms. Small sized multi-purpose rooms. A professional kitchen. Lots of soft seating and a small cafe. A small computer lab or equipment for a mobile computer lab. Enough storage space for both department’s event needs. A space to host audio video related programs like movies. Large family bathrooms with space and benches. A dedicated senior room. An outdoor pavilion area. A small pocket park that encompasses the playground equipment. Town connectivity. A boardwalk path connecting the community center to the Recreation fields. A school bus stop from district schools. Thoughtful noise control, allowing for basketball, indoor runners, and quiet library use etc. A building that invites nature and light in, without dominating the space or the neighborhood.

Many of the plans that were in existence are now decades old. Building codes have changed. The needs of our community have changed. While all of those plans offered great ideas at the time, it’s important to create a new plan that addresses today’s needs and the future. The Recreation Department and Library will incorporate any design elements or ideas from those past concepts that would be great additions to future planning.

Yes,  we are committed to including a space within the community center that will be dedicated to sponsored events and access solely for our senior residents.

The Town owns the building and land now, and will own it in the future. Currently, the Town takes care of the grounds and outside of the Library and the Library budget, supported by tax funds, pays for upkeep of the interior. Occasionally, these roles overlap. The same is true for the Recreation Department.

The Money

The intent is to pursue the formation of a nonprofit organization whose mission will be to raise funds through private donations and grants to help finance the building of a community center. The purpose of this group will be to raise money from private sources and foundations so that taxpayers and the Town will contribute less. We’d love to have you join this effort. Contact us if you’d be interested.

The nonprofit organization will solicit funds through private donations and grants to finance a significant portion of the project.

New Hampshire law (Section 202-A:4) requires that “any city or town having a public library shall annually raise and appropriate a sum of money sufficient to provide and maintain adequate public library service therein or to supplement funds otherwise provided.”

Donors to the nonprofit can be assured that funds will go for the purpose stated in the by-laws. Use of contributions is legally constrained by the organizational purpose designated in by-laws: “to raise money for, and otherwise assist with the design and construction of an addition to, or new building for, the Lane Memorial Library and Hampton Parks and Recreation Department.” As a 501(c)3 corporation, the organization’s trustees have fiduciary responsibility for all funds and will regularly report all donations and expenses to both the State and the IRS. All people and parties fiscally involved will be bonded.

The Frequently Asked

The Recreation Department and Lane Memorial Library do not manage the operations of the Community Room at Hampton Academy. Questions about the Community Room should be directed to Administration at SAU90 who are the sole administrators of that space. As of the writing of this Q&A, current COVID guidance restricts access to the Community Room. We’re also hopeful for access to the Community Room in the future, when restrictions ease.

All of these locations offer their own unique set of challenges. 

The Town Hall is a former bank and does not meet the space requirements for events that the Recreation Department and Library host. It struggles with its own age-related issues that impact storage, modern building code, and available space. 

In recent time the SAU has never suggested that Centre school could be an option for usage in this manner. 

Any storefront would have to be rented by the town, and would not fit the space needs of our community.

In 1982, at town meeting residents voted against buying the Seacoast Youth Association (SYA) pool for the town. A private group attempted to operate the pool, but did so at a loss and eventually sold the facility to developer Thermo Homes, Inc., in 1984. The pool was destroyed, and its remaining acres adjacent to Town-owned Tuck Field became a housing development. History

See our full history of town efforts and warrant articles related to building community space under our Helpful Docs section.

There is current, relevant data available from the town of Exeter, NH regarding indoor pools. They have explored the costs associated with building a new town pool. Estimates as of 2021 to build a 50 meter indoor pool are around $3.5 million. This does not take into consideration the annual maintenance and staffing costs. This doesn’t mean that a pool for our town is off the table! Residents should be aware of the cost of such a facility. It would be a substantial financial increase to the community center’s operations and construction.

Both departments are blessed to receive the help of local organizations, private donors, and businesses who have come forward and should be applauded for their commitment to offering support for community events. The Rec and Library are fortunate to have local agencies support them.  

These organizations control the usage, management, and operations of these spaces. Many charge a fee. They can choose to make the space available or unavailable. This can place the Rec and Library in a position where they are unable to offer events. 

The community has articulated the desire for a town-managed community space. For it to work, it needs to be built by the town, for the departments it will serve.

Yes! No matter what the trend line is for demographics, our town is growing, and will continue to grow in the future. Its location as an active beach tourist destination, along the seacoast, near Boston and other major New England cities means that it will continue to expand its population. A community center at the hub of our town will improve the quality of life in our town.

Population Trends: Population change for Hampton totaled 7,484 over 49 years, from 8,011 in 1970 to 15,495 in 2019. The largest decennial percent change was a 31 percent increase between 1970 and 1980. The 2019 Census estimate for Hampton was 15,495 residents, which ranked 18th among New Hampshire’s incorporated cities and towns.Population Density and Land Area, 2019 (US Census Bureau): 1,126.1 persons per square mile of land area, the eighth highest among cities and towns. Hampton contains 13.8 square miles of land area and 0.4 square miles of inland water area.