Orange Township leaders mull rec center's design, site, cost
After a lengthy discussion, a divided Orange Township trustees voted Monday, Sept. 17, to seek further detailed information on whether to build a community recreation center.
Trustees Rob Quigley and Debbie Taranto voted in favor of a resolution to authorize Scott Overturf, who is contracted by the township to oversee construction projects, to seek bids for schematic design work and land acquisition for a center.
Trustee Lisa Knapp voted against the resolution, saying she thinks more community input is needed before moving forward.
Overturf told trustees the next step will help pinpoint a location for the proposed center, how it will be designed and how much it might cost.
At an Aug. 27 special board meeting, Pros Consulting LLC of Indianapolis presented findings of a feasibility study that listed five potential sites for a center and a cost range for an 89,000-square-foot center of between $26 million and $29 million. That amount does not include the cost of land acquisition. Around 25 people attended that meeting.
The $55,000 study, approved by trustees last December, included a statistically valid mail survey to 1,500 households, of which there were 559 responses. Orange Township has about 6,000 households and 27,000 residents.
"We're asking for the ability to go forward," Overturf said. "We need to get on with the design and the land acquisition."
Overturf told Knapp he did not have a specific cost for the next phase of the project, which would include fees for his work, attorney fees and other expenses. The process likely will take about 90 days.
"This could be $30,000 or $40,000," Knapp said in response. "I just want to make sure the community is actually on board" with building a center.
She said now that the feasibility study is complete, more time should be taken to let residents fully understand it. For example, an informational open house about the center could be held. She said she is supportive of a center if the community wants one.
Resident Steve Kenish said he has some concerns about having a center and the costs.
"I would hate to think (several hundred) responses would dictate we are going to have a $29 million center," he said. "How many more thousands of dollars do we have to spend?"
Quigley said the next step is important to prepare more-accurate data, such as having a better cost amount for the center rather than a cost range as listed in the feasibility study. This will help residents to make an informed decision about the center.
Later, if the project moves forward, there would be open houses and other opportunities for public input, he said. Quigley added that by having additional detailed information, partnerships could be forged with various companies that might be interested in helping to offset the costs.
Taranto pointed out the feasibility study contained a lot of information and is a good starting point.
"We need to move forward to get harder facts," she said.
Overturf estimated the entire process, including the go-ahead from trustees to proceed with various steps during the next year, could take until July 1.
That would give trustees enough time to approve a bond issue, if one would be sought next fall, to build a center. Construction of a center, if approved, could take about two years.
Also at the Sept. 17 meeting, Township Parks Director Beth Hugh told trustees it would cost about $42,600 this year to remove dead ash trees and other dead trees in rights of way along main roadways in the township. Ash trees have become a particular problem because of infestation by the emerald ash borer.
Hugh said township workers will begin marking dead trees soon. In addition, she will find money, such as from capital improvements, so trustees can authorize an expenditure for tree removal. No money for such work had been set aside this year.