(Posted Oct. 10, 2014)
By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer
West Jefferson council approved spending $7,000 on a study to determine the feasibility of a community center or recreation center for the village
Moody/Nolan, a Columbus design firm, will gather information on community interest in such a project and what features they’d prefer, cost of construction and operation, and how to finance the project.
“This study by Moody/Nolan will answer a lot of questions,” said council President Ron Garver.
“We expect this could be done in a couple of months,” said Janet Jordan, a senior recreation planner for Moody/Nolan.
Talk of a community center has come up several times in recent years, but was pushed to the front burner this year when council voted to close the aging Galbreath Hall. The West Jefferson Youth Athletic Association used the facility.
A community center would offer space for meetings and the senior center. A recreation center would offer amenities such as a pool, indoor walking track, fitness center, basketball courts and meeting rooms.
“It’s not to be confused with a municipal center which would have offices for council, village departments and the police department,” Garver said.
A committee of village and community leaders met with Moody/Nolan and two other companies before recommending Moody/Nolan to council. The committee also has met with the Jefferson Township trustees to see if they want to partner in the project. The group also has discussed financing options.
At previous council meetings, Garver spoke about a property tax increase to raise money. On Oct. 6, he talked about a 0.25 percent increase in the village income tax, which he said would raise more money than a property tax increase.
“The third option,” he said, “would be to create a park district.”
However, any money raised for a park district would have to be spent on parks and recreation, thus meaning the building would have to be a recreation center.
The township trustees are studying these options and seeking legal advice on how much participation they can offer.
“The (feasibility) study will help inform us on what the next step is,” Jordan said. “We will get the facts on the table so we’ll know how to go about (building a center).”
“I hope we can form a partnership with the township,” said council member Cory Coburn.
“We’ll be looking for other partners, such as the Chamber of Commerce and the schools,” Jordan said.
Two locations are under consideration for a center. Garver identified one as being along U.S. Route 40 and the other between the Merriman subdivision and the railroad tracks. This is the first time a location has been brought up. No purchase price was discussed.
Garver said the public will get to have its say once things come into focus.
In related business, council approved a resolution to move $7,000 from the Park Development Fund to the general fund to pay for the feasibility study. Money in the Park Development Fund comes from fees paid to the village by businesses along State Route 29.
Council also approved a resolution designating Garver as the liaison between the village and the community/recreation center committee. Others on the committee are Mayor Darlene Steele, Village Law Director Ron Parsons, Dean Bollinger from the Planning and Zoning Commission, and Jefferson Township Trustee Jeff Pfeil.
Council’s next meeting is 7 p.m. Oct. 20.
Coming up in West Jefferson
• Fire hydrant flushing—starts the week of Oct. 12.
• Leaf pickup—through Thanksgiving
• Thanksgiving dinner—Residents of West Jefferson who don’t have family nearby and no place to go for Thanksgiving are invited to the annual Thanksgiving dinner at Church of Christ in Christian Union.
Sponsored by Mayor Darlene Steele and village council member Steve Johnston, the dinner will be held Nov. 22 in the church’s Harvest Chapel, 530 West Jefferson-Kiousville Road.
The women of the church will prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and all of the trimmings.
Those who want to attend the dinner are asked to reserve a seat through the village’s Water Department, (614) 879-8655. Seating is limited. The time of the dinner will be announced at a later date. Go to www.wjohio.org or call (614) 879-7974 for further details.