Thursday, June 3, 2004

Recreation center still perplexes West Chester

By Perry Schaible
Enquirer contributor

WEST CHESTER TWP. - Trustees could still be at least 90 days away from a decision to build a community and recreation center.

After a two-hour work session Wednesday, Trustee George Lang said three options are on the table: "We're discussing doing it, killing it and voting on it."

Lang said he would be surprised if the board gave a green light before fall, despite some comments by trustees that a decision could be made as early as Tuesday. Trustees could decide to put the issue before voters in November.

Since January, trustees have been talking about building a $33 million community and recreation center on Union Centre Boulevard at West Chester Road, opposite Lakota West High School.

Members of the Competitive Pool Action Committee, created by residents concerned that a pool was not initially included, presented trustees with a revenue analysis Wednesday based on a 10-lane competitive pool with seating for 1,000.

Mike Austin, parent-president of the swim team at Beckett Ridge Country Club, said the point was to convince trustees that a competitive pool would not be an additional burden.

He said a pool that size could generate between $145,000 and $229,000 a year based on the number of swim meets.

Attorney Todd Cooper, of Peck, Shaffer & Williams, advised the trustees how to contract out management of the facility while maintaining tax-exempt status.

But Lang cautioned that the board is still in the exploratory phase and still has several issues to research before a decision is made.

"I don't want to build this if the government has to run it," Lang said.

Opponents want residents to vote.

"This all could be ended if you just took it to the taxpayer and say, 'This is what it costs,' " said John Janszen, owner of FitWorks.

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