Whitehall News

Council OKs $10M in bonds toward construction of community center


Whitehall City Council on Nov. 6 took another step toward building the city's first community center.

Council members unanimously passed a resolution authoring the issuance of bonds in an amount not to exceed $10 million for the construction cost of the community center at the site of a former U.S. Army Reserve Center the city had inherited from the federal government.

Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard told council members she had entered into a contract previously authorized by council for design of the community center.

"Now we can move forward and have community forums with the park advisory board," Maggard said.

Whitehall's cost to purchase the property from the federal government was a dollar.

The U.S. Army declared the 25,000-square-foot facility, at 721 County Club Drive, excess property in 2005 as part of that year's Base Realignment And Closure program.

As such, it was made available to Whitehall for $1, providing it was converted to a public use, such as a community center. The former U.S. Army Reserve Center was built circa 1960.

The city will solicit input from residents concerning what programs or facilities are preferred.

An eight-member advisory committee, which was formed last year, will guide the process of determining what amenities the center would offer.

The committee comprises three members of Whitehall City Council, two members of the Whitehall Parks and Recreation Commission, two Whitehall residents and parks-recreation commission director Steve Carr, who serves as a nonvoting ex-officio member.

City officials have known for a few years that Whitehall would receive the land and building. They have discussed how it might be developed but had reserved any formal activity until the deed was in hand.

Maggard received the deed in May, formally and officially transferring ownership of the 5-acre parcel, worth about $850,000, to the city of Whitehall.

No budget has been established for the demolition or construction, but Ruscilli Construction Co. is providing to Whitehall, at no cost, a feasibility study to determine what part of the structure, if any, could be converted to its intended use.

Whitehall has contracted with Cincinnati-based MSA Architects to design a plan for converting the reserve center or building a new community center.

No budget has been established yet for the project.

In other action Nov. 6, council adopted multiple ordinances that either transferred or appropriated funds for several purposes. Among them were ordinances transferring $84,080 from non-appropriated revenue in the general fund to the tax-incentive expense account; transferring $160,000 from non-appropriated revenue in the general fund to the accrued-benefit-reserve expense account; transferring $320,000 from non-appropriated revenue in the general fund to the self-funded health-insurance account; and transferring $70,000 from various general-fund expense accounts to the streetlighting expense account, the dental-insurance expense account and the EMS-administration expense account.