Violet Township officials will be host to a meeting May 10 to discuss how a community center could take shape and be built.

Residents and other community stakeholders are invited to Violet Baptist Church, 8345 Blacklick Eastern Road, at 6:30 p.m. for the information session about a possible Violet Township community center.

Violet Township Development Director Holly Mattei said the meeting is designed to introduce a feasibility study being conducted by Moody Nolan and Rockmill Financial Consulting, as well as potential funding options to construct and operate a community center.

The study is coming after Violet Township and the city of Pickerington in 2016 conducted a recreation and leisure survey that indicated support for a community center that could include indoor leisure, swimming pools, a walking and jogging track and cardiovascular fitness equipment.

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission also has pledged help to the township through an Insight2050 Technical Assistance Program to develop a Refugee Road/Pickerington Road Corridor master plan.

The goal of that plan has been to develop a mixed-use community that would include residential, office and medical offerings, as well as recreational opportunities.

A community center could serve as an anchor for the corridor, around which other development could take place.

But Mattei said no site has been selected.

"We will be reviewing potential sites as part of the feasibility study," she said.

"There is a separate Refugee-Pickerington Road master plan that is being completed by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission that will be looking at the possibility of locating a community center somewhere within this area to help spur other economic development.

"Both the Moody Nolan feasibility study and the MORPC master plan will help us to work towards identifying a potential site that works best for the community and future economic growth," Mattei said.

The feasibility study is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

As part of the work, the township is encouraging the public to provide feedback about expectations for building and funding a community center through a series of future meetings and focus groups.

"There will be a series of focus groups revolving around aquatics, volleyball, baseball, soccer, basketball, moms with toddlers, teens/tweens (and) senior activities, including pickleball, and other community activities," Mattei said.

"We will be asking residents who want to participate in helping identify the features and amenities of the community center to sign up for one or more of these focus group meetings.

"There will be sign-up sheets at the May 10th meeting or they can contact me, if they are unable to attend on the 10th," she said.

Township Director of Operations John Eisel said the feasibility study is the result of input officials already have received through the 2016 survey, as well as information that's been related to decision-makers for decades.

"This community center concept has been something that's been discussed in the community for 30 years," Eisel said. "This will truly be the will of the people.

"They'll either want it or they won't. We can't do it without their funding."

Mattei said proposed costs for the project won't be estimated until the study is completed and a community center site and amenities are recommended.

She said the 2016 survey received 1,001 responses and more than 73 percent were either "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to vote in favor of an increase in property tax of $6 a month per $100,000 of home value to fund the community center.

The survey also stated 79 percent of respondents would be willing to pay at least $40 per month for a family pass.

"A community center typically has something for everyone: children, families, adults and seniors," Mattei said.

"It would provide residents with better access to activities and programs that will contribute to a healthier lifestyle and opportunities for social interaction," she said.

"Community centers have also increasingly become an important economic development driver by attracting and retaining a talented workforce, which can bolster business attraction, retention and expansion, (and) which could ultimately increase property values and the overall economic health of the area.

"But most importantly, our residents have indicated their desire for a community center."

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