Olentangy Valley News

Orange Township community center

Trustees OK design, look toward November ballot

Planned center draws dissent, support during recent meeting

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Orange Township trustees have approved the design and budget for a proposed community center as the township prepares to place a bond issue on the fall ballot.

Architects and planners from Meyers and Associates presented the center's designs to the board at its meeting July 2. The board also gave its nod to the first of two resolutions required to place a bond issue on the ballot in November to fund construction of the center.

According to the designs, the two-story, 89,000-square-foot center will feature a pool, fitness equipment, a gymnasium, a banquet hall and community rooms and will host more than 200 programs for residents of all ages.

A planning committee still is negotiating land contracts, but the center likely would be built north of Lewis Center Road, east of the railroad tracks.

The project and design now will move to the Delaware County Auditor's office for review.

The center's estimated cost is $27 million. The planning committee and architects estimate a 29-year bond at 1.5 mills will be required. This would translate to about $53 annually in taxes per $100,000 in home value, according to the auditor's office.

Some residents came forward during last week's meeting to speak against the proposal.

Darrel Hall, a longtime resident of Orange Township, said he doesn't think a new center could compete with already established athletic facilities such as the Dublin or Westerville recreation centers and commercial gyms.

"They make everything sound like milk and honey, but it's not that. There's a lot of problems," Hall said. "The odds against us in Orange Township is staggering. I definitely think you have a real loser here."

Hall also said he was worried that if the community center request fails, proponents will return to the ballot repeatedly until it passes.

Trustees' President Debbie Taranto said the board would get just one shot on the ballot.

"If it fails, it's done," she said.

Resident Brian Brant, who works for Ohio State University's facilities department, echoed Hall's concerns, adding he worries about the quality of the building. He said the newer buildings on campus have more issues than the older buildings.

"The new buildings are all junk. The newer the building, the more problems we have," Brant said.

Some supporters spoke at the meeting as well. David Chambers, who is a member of Orange Township's Park Advisory Board, encouraged residents to think about the future of Orange Township and create a stronger community.

"It's what it brings to the township as a whole as we continue to grow and move forward," Chambers said. "It's really just an investment to the future of this township."

Trustees must pass the required resolutions and submit the bond issue to the Delaware County Board of Elections by Aug. 6.

The board of trustees meets next at 7 p.m. July 21 at Township Hall, 1680 E. Orange Road.

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