Thursday, September 30, 2004

Citizen wants Web advocacy halted

By John Kiesewetter
Enquirer staff writer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - After a resident's complaint, the township may change information on its Web site about the proposed $33 million community center, the subject of a referendum next year.

Dan Wagner, who circulated petitions to place the issue on the ballot, told trustees Tuesday the township was improperly advocating the center on its Internet site,

"The township should not be using its assets to support one side or the other; now that we know it's going to be voted on" by residents, said Wagner, an officer in Let Us Vote West Chester.

On the township's home page, visitors who "are interested in information" about the center are sent to a page saying the recreation center "is almost a reality." Those who click on "Get Involved" are told: "If you want to participate in making the proposed community and recreation center a reality for our community, tell your family and friends."

Under community links, a visitor can go to a Web site created by Residents for the Center, an organization that urged residents not to sign referendum petitions last summer.

"This is basically a commercial for the community center," Wagner said.

Township attorney Don Crain told trustees they can publicize their July decision to build the center but changes may have to be made.

"Some of the language, we may have to take a look at," Crain said.

Trustees President Catherine Stoker promised Wagner that the township "would do what's right."

Trustees devoted much of the first six months this year to planning what would be Greater Cincinnati's largest municipally-funded community and recreation center. The 172,000-square-foot facility would include an outdoor pool, two indoor pools, indoor turf field, gymnasium, fitness area and meeting rooms.

The center would be built at Union Centre Boulevard and West Chester Road, opposite Lakota West High School.

A group of citizens led by FitWorks owners John Janszen and Randy Stanifer challenged the concept and business plan at the planning meetings. After trustees voted for construction, they collected more than 2,000 valid signatures from township voters to place a referendum on the ballot next year.


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