Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Recreation center to be built

By Jennifer Edwards, jedwards@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WEST CHESTER TWP. — After years in the making, leaders in this booming suburb are finalizing plans on a $30 million community recreation center.

        The facility is likely to be builtin the Union Centre Boulevard area as part the township's vision for a town center there. It will have indoor and outdoor pools, jogging tracks, basketball courts, workout rooms and other amenities.

        Trustee Catherine Stoker said she would like to see the rec center emerge within walking distance of Lakota West High School on West Chester Road.

        “Our young people have too much time on their hands and too much money in their pockets,” Ms. Stoker said. “This will give the young people in our township a place to go for healthy, fun activities. There are few places for children to go where they can actually do the things they enjoy and, quite frankly, stay out of trouble and do something other than sitting in front of the TV.”

        At today's 7 p.m. meeting, trustees will lay the groundwork for paying for the center by voting to expand an existing tax increment financing district in the Union Centre Boulevard area.

        “We are setting up the revenue stream we must have to buy land and build a community center,” Ms. Stoker said.

        Groundbreaking will be sometime this year, but a date has not been set.

        The center could be built in about two years, she estimated. Township officials have been meeting with health-care providers to discuss partnering in the facility. No decisions are final, but Administrator Dave Gully said Monday Tri-Health Preventive Health Systems is the front-runner.

        “They have some additional studies they need to do on the concept,” Mr. Gully said of Tri-Health. “We are looking for someone to manage the facility and operate our programs for us and make sure quality programs are offered.”

        At least 10 acres is needed for the center, but officials prefer 15 to 20.

        Also at tonight's meeting:

        • Trustees are expected to approve supporting the Port Union Gilmore Ponds Conservation Corridor, which stretches about seven miles from the Great Miami River through West Chester. The move preserves green space and wetlands.

        It will provide recreational areas for West Chester, Fairfield and Hamilton residents. The area may be bordered in the future with a bike trail from the Great Miami River to tie all the communities together.

        • A coalition will be announced to support and encourage the growing Hispanic population in West Chester. About 12 percent of the 60,000 people who live in the township are Hispanic.


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