Prairie Township trustees approved the purchase of two tracts of land along West Broad Street and Galloway Road as the future site for a long-awaited community center and ball fields.
The $960,000 purchases were made official at the Jan. 9 board of trustees meeting.
The first purchase agreement was for a nine-acre parcel on the south side of West Broad Street, just west of Galloway Road.
It was purchased from Broad Galloway Associates LLC for $360,000 and will be the location of the new community center.
The second parcel, offered as part of a package with the first, is a 110-acre tract on the west side of Galloway Road, south of Hall Road and north of the unincorporated village of Galloway, purchased from Dominion Homes Inc. for $600,000.
Trustee Steve Kennedy said the board had looked at numerous sites and believed these two were among the best locations at the best price. The Galloway Road location, for example was valued at $2.4 million in 2004, he said.
"We purchased it for $600,000," Kennedy said. "We could not pass that up."
Trustees said the best location for a community center is at the West Broad Street site.
The township hopes to partner with area youth sports associations in an effort to develop land at the Galloway Road site.
"Short term, we will get it planted with grass and look for those partnerships," Kennedy said. "This area is underserved when it comes to recreation opportunities."
The land purchase comes on the heels of the township's presentation of a community center feasibility study prepared by a consultant team led by Moody Nolan Inc., and architecture, interior design and civil engineering firm. Results were released Jan. 9.
The team began work on the study in June of last year; it took into account input from a community steering committee, a community questionnaire and interviews with local stakeholders. The study provides an analysis of the scope of the community center, size, cost and location.
Township Administrator Tracy Hatmaker said the study will be used to formulate recommendations as to how the township might best proceed with the community recreation center project.
The township will budget for a cost of $10.8 million for construction of the center to be financed over 25 years, Hatmaker said.
Total operating expenses will be around $1 million annually with a revenue stream capturing 75 to 80 percent of the cost.
The feasibility study suggests that the community center will be approximately 38,000 square feet and will feature a swimming pool, gym and common space as well as a catering kitchen and track for walking and running.
"This is still a feasibility study, not a design," said Janet Jordan, from Moody Nolan.
"The community center is a modest size," Jordan said. "We will have the ability to expand in the future if the center is overused."
Brian Cooper, a financial consultant on the feasibility study, said the community center will benefit the area in many ways. "The hope is that it would attract other businesses and help create a center for growth and development in the future," Cooper said.
Trustees expect the community center to be up and running in early 2015.