Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Center's 1st reading low-key

Vote on West Chester community center is July 13

By John Kiesewetter
Enquirer staff writer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - The first reading Tuesday of a resolution to go ahead with a $33 million West Chester Community and Recreation Center failed to bring out a crowd.

Only seven people spoke on the center - four against and three for it - at the trustees regular meeting.

Dominating the public comment portion were two FitWorks partners, John Janszen and Randy Stanifer, the most vocal opponents during the trustees' six-month process of deciding on the center.

"The issue isn't competition. The issue is competition from government," Stanifer said.

However, project manager Steve Jones from Messer Construction pointed out that the 151,380-square-foot community center would offer much more than FitWorks' aerobics and fitness equipment.

The township also would have an indoor leisure pool with slides and lap lanes, an indoor competitive pool and grandstand, sauna, two basketball and two racquetball courts, a field turf multipurpose gym, track and meeting rooms. A 20,135-square-foot outdoor pool would be attached to the building.

A representative from the Union Centre Boulevard Business Association read a letter in support of the facility, planned for 18 acres at Union Centre Boulevard and West Chester Road, opposite Lakota West High School.

The resolution Tuesday authorizes township staff to negotiate contracts for architectural plans, purchase property, seek proposals from organizations to manage the facility and reach an agreement with swimming groups for the competitive pool use.

Trustees George Lang and Catherine Stoker have indicated they will vote in favor of the resolution after a second reading on July 13.

If they do so, Janszen and Stanifer say they will begin collecting signatures July 14 to put a referendum on the Nov. 2 ballot. Janszen and Stanifer unsuccessfully tried to go to a referendum on a trustees' community center decision last year.

They must gather 1,577 signatures of registered township voters by Aug. 12 to put it on the November ballot, according to the Butler County Board of Elections.

The township center would be slightly smaller than Mason's 158,380-square-foot center with two indoor pools. Mason's facility marked its one-year anniversary March 1 with a $585,000 deficit.

According to the resolution, trustees are convinced the center "will be financially self-sufficient, and not burden the (township's) general operating (fund)." Construction would be paid for by tax-increment financing revenue from Union Centre development, not the general fund.


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