Negotiations have been completed and the Ricketts family officially has agreed to donate land for a community center in Violet Township, contingent upon the passage of a tax issue this spring to fund the project.

On Feb. 20, the Violet Township trustees voted unanimously to accept 30 undeveloped acres at the southeast corner of Pickerington and Refugee roads from the Ricketts family.

The move formalizes plans township officials made public last September to develop a community center on a portion of the 79-acre site.

The land value for the total site is $944,760, according to the Fairfield County Auditor's Office.

"The township is elated to have the Ricketts family donate the 30 acres required for this community facility," said John Eisel, Violet Township director of operations. "It is very generous on their behalf."

The community center project that would be built on the 30 acres is contingent upon passage of a 4.6-mill, 25-year levy to fund the facility's construction and its operations for its first 25 years. The levy is on the the May 7 primary election ballot.

If the levy is approved by voters in Pickerington and unincorporated Violet Township, the land transfer process can begin, Eisel said.

If the levy is defeated, the Ricketts family would continue to own the land.

Richard Ricketts, whose family donated the land, said his family has lived in the Violet Township and Pickerington area since it was settled by Abraham Pickering.

He said his parents, John and Rita Ricketts, were farmers in the area and "always advocated providing time and resources in support of the community.

His father was a Violet Township trustee for 16 years and was a Pickerington school board member for 12. His mother served both on Pickerington City Council and as mayor.

"The Ricketts family also seeks to advance steps to achieve and maintain the 'excellence' of our community," Ricketts said.

"The construction of a community center will materially enhance economic development in the community and also further the quality of life for its residents.

"The decision by the Ricketts family to contribute ground for this effort is consistent with those objectives and is also in furtherance of John and Rita's history of providing financial support of the numerous projects they support."

Ricketts said the land which would serve as the site for the community center has been the "main base" of the family's farming operations for many years. He noted most of those operations have been relocated to Fayette and Madison counties over the years, but the remaining 49 acres on the site at Pickerington and Refugee road would continued to be "used for agricultural purposes until otherwise developed."

As conceptually designed, the township has proposed to build a $46 million community center.

It would be a 95,000-square-foot facility that would include two gymnasiums, a welcome desk, staff offices, a child-care area for parents who are using the facility, three multipurpose rooms and a study or "quiet" area on its first floor.

Those designs also show a competition swimming pool and a leisure pool, as well as separate locker rooms for men and women, a universal family changing room and "team" room on the first floor.

The second floor, as proposed, would feature a 0.1-mile track. Inside the track would be a fitness space, two exercise classrooms, a "messy arts and crafts room" and the facility's mechanical equipment.

The levy to fund the project levy would cost homeowners $13.39 per month per $100,000 of "total appraised value" of homes as determined by the Fairfield County Auditor's Office.

The annual cost would be $160.68 per $100,000 of home valuation.

Homeowners can find the total appraised value of their homes at co.fairfield.oh.us.

Information on the township's economic development website, investwithviolet.com, states the median home value in Violet Township is $200,800. The annual costs for a home valued at that amount would be $323.29.

Township officials have said they're pursuing the community center after a 2016 survey found that 67 percent of respondents strongly agreed a facility is needed, and 24 percent agreed a community center is needed.

According to information from the township, 4,000 households received the survey and 1,001 surveys were completed.

Eisel said the center will be built with future expansion in mind, but there's nothing in the current deal to have the Ricketts family donate additional land. Township officials also have said they hope the center will help spur economic development with new businesses seeking to build stores and offices around the facility.

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