After the landslide defeat of a levy to fund construction and operation of a community center, Violet Township officials said they don't anticipate bringing forward an alternative project.

On May 7, township voters defeated Issue 2, a levy to build and operate a Violet Township community center, by a vote of 6,575, or 82%, to 1,461, or 18%.

The more than four-votes-to-one margin wiped out current plans to build a $46-million, 95,000-square-foot facility on land that was to be donated at the southeast corner of Pickerington and Refugee roads.

And according to township officials, the vote was a loud enough statement to scuttle any plans to bring back another community center levy in the near future.

"I cannot imagine putting this same thing on the ballot," said Darrin Monhollen, Violet Township Board of Trustees chairman.

As of May 10, Monhollen said, the trustees, who would be charged with putting another levy on the ballot, had not discussed bringing forward any alternative community center project or levy.

Those sentiments were echoed by Violet Township Director of Operations John Eisel.

Although the trustees ultimately decide what township issues would be placed on the ballot, they typically consider recommendations from township administrators such as Eisel and Development Director Holly Mattei.

Eisel said throughout public discussions about the community center that the direction of the project would be determined by residents.

"As a (township) staff member, the community center issue has been voted on by the people, and the people have decided that issue," Eisel said. "It was not a close vote. It was an overwhelming vote, and I think the people have made their statement."

Eisel said he believes township officials would be better served to "move on to other projects" rather than to revise plans for a community center.

"To my knowledge, there's no more forward progress on that project, although that's a decision to be made by the board (of trustees)," he said.

"Going back to the community meetings on this, I said this would be the will of the people, and the voters would decide.

"The voters did decide, and I heard it loud and clear."

Trustee Terry Dunlap said he has no plans to pursue another community center proposal.

"There are no plans for any future activities in regards to a community center," he said.

Dunlap said trustees put the matter on the ballot because a 2016 survey showed 73 percent of respondents were at least somewhat likely to support a community center levy. However, that was for a levy that would have cost $6 per $100,000 of home valuation.

According to township officials, the 4.6-mill, 25-year May 7 levy would have cost homeowners about $161 annually per $100,000 of total appraised value.

"The residents wanted (Issue 2) on the ballot," Dunlap said. "We put it on the ballot and the residents spoke.

"That was a big issue. It needed to go on the ballot, and the residents spoke."

Trustee Melissa Wilde said she could support bringing another community center levy before voters, but was not sure of support among the trustees.

For now, she said, it would likely be up to community center supporters such as those who were members of Citizens for a Better Violet, a citizens group supporting the tax issue, to come forward with a formal petition to force the issue back on the ballot.

"We believe strong communities can change the world," Wilde said. "We believe Violet Township is worth investing in.

"I believe the committee will be taking this on. They are committed to this project."

Representatives of Citizens for a Better Violet did not respond to a request for comment. Instead, the group issued a joint statement:

"Although the vote did not turn out the way we had hoped, we are grateful for the amazing level of support provided by so many volunteers and citizens in the Violet Township community who took part in focus groups, campaigned, and voted for the levy.

"We believe the issue will be back in front of voters in the future. However, as the campaigning for this levy made clear, a transformative infrastructure project like a community center will only become a reality when elected leaders from both the township and the city of Pickerington decide to support a shared vision for progress, rather than being satisfied with the status quo.

"We urge those who want to see a community center built, whether they voted for or against the levy, to contact their city and township leaders directly with their feedback."

Pickerington City Council President Mike Sabatino was secretary of the political-action committee, Citizens for Responsible Government, that opposed Issue 2.

He said he wasn't surprised the levy failed by a wide margin, but was surprised that "no" votes represented 82 percent of those cast.

Sabatino said his group distributed 750 yard signs opposing Issue 2 and believes it failed because it was too expensive for the average homeowner and included too many expensive features that weren't necessary.

"If they brought it back, I would hope it would be a little more affordable and that they'd better-align costs with the users and not be the banana split with cherries on top that this one was," he said. "There were a lot of seniors that expressed concerns.

"When (township officials) are looking at something like this, they have to look at the entire community and not just the few."

Had Issue 2 passed, conceptual plans called for a community center with two gymnasiums, a welcome desk, offices, a child-care area for parents using the facility, three multipurpose rooms and a study or "quiet" area on its first floor.

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

The second floor would have featured a 0.1-mile track, fitness space, two exercise classrooms and an arts room.

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