Canal Winchester officials are looking into possible changes regarding the Canal Winchester Recreation Organization and fees to cover playing field maintenance.

Canal Winchester officials are looking into possible changes regarding the Canal Winchester Recreation Organization and fees to cover playing field maintenance.

Councilwoman and CWRO representative Bobbi Mershon said the organization has been considering a joint recreation district designation as opposed to its current nonprofit, recreation organization designation.

"The CWRO has considered going back to being a joint recreation district, but that's still in the discussion phase, because there are pros and cons to doing it either way," Mershon said. "One issue, for example, is that if another organization wants to come in and run a football league, there's no way to regulate that right now."

A joint recreation district is considered a political subdivision, run jointly by the schools, city and a resident board, which has the ability to put forward levies and has greater control over park resources; the CWRO doesn't have this ability, but as a nonprofit, it is able to do fundraising.

"When we looked at it originally, it seemed like expenses were higher with the JRD, but when you consider the insurance and other expenses, they really balance out," Mershon said.

Public Works Director Matt Peoples said one issue facing the city is the limited number of indoor facilities for winter programming.

"If you look at the school year, when they have things going on in the gyms and buildings, there just isn't space for recreation leagues because they're all trying to schedule time where there isn't any, so an indoor facility would help a lot, but the CWRO can't take that on," Peoples said. "(The city) has our core infrastructure in place so we can invest more in our parks, but we still can't afford to just put a rec center in our budget. I just don't see us being able to do that."

Councilman Rick Deeds agreed and encouraged Mershon and the CWRO to consider the options closely.

"Looking at the structure we have, it seems like the city and schools should work together on these space issues, because however well-intentioned, having a group of volunteers running a multi-million dollar development project isn't the best idea," Deeds said.

With baseball and softball seasons underway, Mershon also mentioned that teams from outside the CWRO leagues cause field schedules to become overwhelmed and add to maintenance needs.

"In talking with the CWRO, the problem isn't when an individual like a family wants to go out and play and no one is using the field, it's when you bring in outside teams to use the field because those teams only come to Canal Winchester because all the other communities charge to use their fields," Mershon said. "I think it's a good idea to monitor usage and recoup money for the park and for repairs."

Peoples said his staff looked at pricing from neighboring communities and found there was no across-the-board standard.

"As far as field reservations go, some communities have resident versus non-resident fee structures and some are based on profit versus nonprofit teams, with prices ranging from $200 a day down to $50 a day," Peoples said. "But we don't really see any damage to the fields and as soon as baseball and softball season is over, we don't have these complaints any more -- but to enforce it during this time of the year, we'd have to hire someone just to do that."

Mershon and Peoples agreed that more discussion is needed with the CWRO baseball commissioner to determine a solution.

"I think there can be a reasonable solution to this issue," Peoples said. "Maybe it is just having something in effect from April to June."