The Orange Township Park Board is collecting information that could lead to development of a community recreation center.

The Orange Township Park Board is collecting information that could lead to development of a community recreation center.

The park board and its staff are developing a request for proposal (RFP) document to find a company to help them answer questions regarding a community center, said parks manager Beth Hugh.

The township wants to find a company with expertise to help identify what services and programs residents want a community center to offer and whether public-private partnerships could help fund and run the facility.

The company would be experts in the field, Hugh said, noting that the parks board hopes to seek trustee approval for the RFP in about a month.

The township has discussed building a community center since 2007.

In October 2010, trustees hired the architectural and engineering firm Floyd Browne Group to help determine what township locations would be feasible.

"We've had discussions with Floyd Browne, because they know the area so well, about property owners, people who might be willing to donate some ground, options about development and how (a center) could fit in (an area) and connections with the trails," Hugh said.

Hugh said discussions with the firm have not resulted in a particular location site, and she could not disclose the locations discussed. Land purchases can be discussed in executive session.

About 26 people turned out for an open house held by the park board May 18. The event included displays of the parks master plan and maps of current and future trails and amenities.

Township trustee Jennifer Christian, the park board liaison, said the board's primary focuses are pedestrian trails and a possible community center.

Those priorities stem from a 2008 survey in which 64.4 percent of residents surveyed were interested in a community center and 55 percent were interested in continued development of pedestrian trails. The survey was part of updating the parks' master plan that occurred that year.

The township wants input on the developing pedestrian trail system. At the end of the 2011 construction season, the township will have extended its current five miles of trails to 10 miles.

The township parks improvements and maintenance are funded through a parks levy that voters last approved in May 2010.

Using money from the levy, the township also acquired a number of state grants to build amenities such as trails.

When applying for grants, the applicant must show community financial support for the amenity the grant would fund, Hugh said.

The township has four developed parks: North Orange Park, 36 acres; Township Hall Park, 24 acres; Ro Park, 14 acres; and Glen Oak Park 22 acres.

The next meeting for the Orange Township Community Park Board will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 15, at the township hall, 1680 E. Orange Road, Lewis Center. The parks master plan is posted on www.orangetwp.org.

bbutcher@thisweeknews.com

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