Tyler's Light, a Pickerington-based non-profit organization devoted to education and awareness about opiate abuse and addiction, is seeking to partner with the city of Pickerington to build a recreation and community center in the city to be called "Tyler's Lighthouse."
The Tyler's Light organization was formed by Wayne Campbell and his wife, Christy, with the help of friends after the Campbells' son, Tyler, a 2007 graduate of Pickerington High School North, died in July 2011 from a heroin overdose after becoming addicted to pain-killers following an injury while playing college football.
The organization was formed with the goal of preventing drug abuse by raising awareness and educating students, families and the community.
Pat Durbin, vice president of Tyler's Light, appeared before Pickerington City Council Dec. 18.
He said the organization's rapid growth requires the need for a permanent public space in which to hold meetings as well as to serve as a drug-free recreation center for area youth.
He said Tyler's Light has had initial discussions about the plan with Pickerington City Manager Bill Vance and Mayor Lee Gray.
"This will be mutually beneficial for the city of Pickerington," Durbin said.
"Pickerington is our home," he said.
"We're growing rapidly. We don't know the who or the how, but we know the why," Durbin said.
Vance acknowledged Pickerington is in need of a community facility, albeit on a smaller scale than a multi-million dollar venue.
"This is more of a scaled-down, $400,000 proposed project," he said.
Vance described the funding scenario for the project.
"Tyler's Light would put up half of the money, the city would put up the other half," Vance said.
He told council the next step is for Tyler's Light to come up with a "visual concept" to bring back in front of council.
Vance said if the plan "were to gain traction," then it would be sent to the Parks and Recreation Committee for further discussion and investigation.
Durbin told council Tyler's Light will pay for the conceptual drawings.
He said the time is now to move forward with a strategic plan, especially since Tyler's Light has gained significant traction throughout the state and beyond.
"We knew we would be there, we just didn't think we would be there this soon," Durbin said.
Vance said there needed to be consensus approval from council to move forward with the next phase of the proposal.
Councilwoman Cristie Hammond said she needed to see more details.
"I don't think we've got enough information," Hammond said.
"Where would it be built? Where's the land?" she asked.
Durbin said the proposal is still in the early planning stages and those particulars have not yet been determined.
"If the city isn't interested in participating, we'll go in another direction," Durbin said, adding Tyler's Light officials do not "want to spend a lot of money up front if the city isn't interested in doing this."
Tyler's Light President Wayne Campbell said the proposal will benefit both Tyler's Light and Pickerington.
"We have needs, you have needs," Campbell said.
"Why not have a place together? We're going to train other communities to do what we're doing.
"We need a house. We're going to build regardless, wouldn't it be great to partner up?" Campbell asked.
Councilman Mike Sabatino told Campbell the plan is worth exploring.
"You have to start somewhere," Sabatino said.
"You've got nothing to lose. Hopefully we can put something together, in my opinion," Sabatino said.
Durbin said Tyler's Light has "talked to over 12,000 students in the last six months" and has far exceeded fundraising goals by raising $75,000 in a one-year period.
He said the next step in the organization's five-year strategic plan is to make Tyler's Lighthouse a reality and keep it in Pickerington.
"One way or another, we would like to get it done," Durbin said.
"This is where the organization started, this is where we would like it to be our home."
Durbin said the public is encouraged to attend a Tyler's Light "town hall" meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28, at Pickerington High School North.