By Amanda Amsel
Prairie Township has something to celebrate after winning a prestigious state award.
The Prairie Township Community Center won the second place award in the Capital Improvement Projects $2.5 million and up category for the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association (OPRA) 2015 Annual Awards of Excellence.
“This is a pretty big deal,” said James Gant, director of the center. “This is a very prestigious organization that overseas all the recreation centers and programs for the whole state.”
Gant said the community center is the first big recreation project the township has ever worked on and the only project they ever submitted for these awards.
The $10 million, 40,000 square foot facility opened in June 2015 and was funded by a referendum that created a Joint Economic Development Zone (JEDZ) with the city of Obetz. The JEDZ allows the township to collect income tax from the West Broad Street commercial strip within township limits. One of the conditions included in the proposal was to build a new community center.
“What is so important about this award is that they don’t look at it as just a building; they look at it as having an impact on the community,” Gant said. “They see what this building and project will do for our community.”
At the awards ceremony, representatives from OPRA said that the community center meets the needs of not only the residents of Prairie Township but also the recreational needs of surrounding area residents.
Gant said when the Prairie Township trustees discussed creating the center they had a vision and hoped that it would revive the westside and today they feel it is doing just that.
“This center is helping bring back the westside,” Gant said. “We hope this is just the start of economic growth in our community.”
Leaders in Prairie Township are already examining ways to expand the community center and are considering adding an outdoor pool and other amenities five to 10 years down the road.
The center has already achieved its membership goal of 3,000 members and hopes to have 6,000 members when all is said and done.
“We reached our first year membership goals with the first four and a half months of being open,” Gant said. “Now, we are looking toward the future.”
For more information on the community center and the programs they offer, visit www.prairietownship.org.