Orange Township's plans for a community center got a little more solid this week, though voters likely will make the final decision in November.
At the trustees' meeting Monday, March 17, the board awarded Meyers + Associates Architecture, a Columbus-based firm, a two-phase contract to design the potential center.
The cost of the firm's services is estimated at $964,595. Since funding for the center will require a ballot issue, details remain undecided, officials said.
The township's contract with the firm is divided into two phases. The first, which consists of choosing a site and determining building size and programming, is $270,250.
If residents vote to approve the center, the township will pay the $684,345 cost of the second phase of the contract.
The contract also includes $10,000 for reimbursable items.
Scott Overturf, a consultant for the township, said a community center would help to establish Orange Township as a unified community instead of a group of loosely connected housing associations.
"You only get a chance once to have an impact in a community. This community center will have the greatest impact in Orange Township than any other building here," Overturf said. "It will finally have a place that the community can have as their town center, their home -- a center where the activities can be."
Chris Meyers, principal architect and founder of Meyers + Associates, said he was grateful for the opportunity to design the center.
"We have an enormous amount of experience when it comes to buildings like this -- buildings for communities, buildings for recreational parks, aquatics," Meyers said. "This is a really good fit."
The board has until July to finalize plans and place a funding issue on the November ballot.
Also at this week's meeting, Beth Hugh, parks and maintenance director, suggested the board create a resolution to outline how the township will repair or replace and install mailboxes damaged by township vehicles.
The township is liable for direct damages to mailboxes if a township vehicle, such as a snowplow, hits the mailbox directly. As a courtesy, the township has replaced or repaired broken mailboxes that were damaged by snow removal but not necessarily hit by the plow.
"If we can do something about it, we help out if we can," Hugh said.
Since this winter was unusually harsh, Hugh said she has received more requests than in years past. The cost of mailboxes can range from $25 for basic models to several hundred dollars for customized mailboxes.
Hugh suggested creating and adopting a policy similar to that of Liberty Township. According to its resolution, the township is not responsible for repairs if a mailbox is poorly maintained, such as if the post had rotted wood, rusted metal or broken hinges, and therefore was unable to withstand the weight of snow removal.
If a damaged mailbox meets necessary requirements, Hugh suggests the township resolution pay up to $150 to replace the broken mailbox with one of similar style and equal value.
"It gives me something concrete," she said, "and for these custom and really expensive mailboxes, it gives, in my opinion, fairness across the board."
The board will discuss the topic further at its next meeting.
Also at this week's board meeting:
• The township fire department's collective bargaining agreement reached its 12-month mark. The agreement began March 1, 2013, and ended February 28, 2014. The fire department saved $564,568, which exceeded the original estimated savings of $450,000, trustees said.
• Girl Scout Troop 2716 encouraged residents to purchase rain barrels as part of its Bronze Award project. The troop will host a seminar about rain barrels at 9:30 a.m. April 19 at Township Hall.
• The township announced it will offer shredding services April 21-25. Residents can bring up to two boxes of personal papers to the Township Hall to be shredded.
The Orange Township board of trustees next meets at 7 p.m. April 7 at Orange Township Hall, 1680 E. Orange Road.