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Council to vote on rec center for Westland area
Columbus City Council could be acting soon on the rezoning request on the land where the Westland Area Commission would like to see a community recreation center built.
Maureen Lorenz, a landscape architect in the city’s Recreation and Parks Department, confirmed to WAC members at their Sept. 17 meeting that the issue was being worked on and would be brought before the full council “by fall.”
WAC president Mike McKay backed her up when he said “it is my understanding that it will be moved by fall.”
Early this year, WAC approved the rezoning of the Blauser property along West Broad Street, diagonal from the Kroger store, so that a community center and athletic and recreation facilities could be built. The question still has to be acted upon by city council.
The city is planning to purchase the property with funds from the last bond issue. The bond issue for funds for Recreation and Parks that is on the Nov. 4 election would provide funds to build a community recreation center.
Lorenz said that three proposals are being considered and only two will be built. A decision on which two will be chosen has not been made.
“I don’t know if it will come down to arm wrestling,” she said.
The bond issue for Recreation and Parks would raise $1.6 billion with much of it going towards infrastructure work. Of the remaining amount, $40 million would go for the construction of recreation centers.
The city is also looking into help at financing the operation of a center once it is built. Lorenz said her department has talked with Prairie Township trustees “and they are interested in partnering with us.”
SWCS levy effecting Westland area
Also addressing the meeting was Philip Warner, deputy superintendent of South-Western City Schools, who explained the combination bond issue-operating levy on the November ballot.
Approval of this issue would allow the district to receive state funds to help renovate nearly all the schools and put up a new building for Franklin Heights High School, as well as maintain the current level of operations.
Approval of the issue would mean the owner of a $100,000 home would pay an estimated $25 per month on their property taxes.
WAC member Jim Kennedy questioned why the figure $100,000 was always used “when no one lives in a $100,000 home.”
“It’s an easy multiplier,” Warner said, adding that the average valuation of a home in the district, the sixth largest in Ohio, is $185,000.
In addition to a new Franklin Heights High School, there would be a new Norton Middle School. All other schools would be renovated with much of the renovating being made to accommodate the latest in technology, and much of that would be made toward the end of the seven-year plan.
WAC member Jan Collette, who serves as education chair for the group, said that having new schools would help the economy.
“When you build new schools, people will come,” she said. “They will bring new jobs.
“Now that Norton Road is widened, it looks like a landing strip,” she continued. “You go down Norton Road and see new schools, it would be phenomenal.”
Passage of the issue would bring 47 percent of the building cost from the state with the district raising the rest of the funds.
When the Ohio School Facilities Commission informed the district it’s name had come up on the list to get funds, the district was given one year to raise the funds.
“The state said your name is on the list, go to the community,” Warner said. “I don’t know what will happen if it loses.”
Fire dispatching questions
On another topic, member Bill Steimer raised questions about how city fire crews are dispatched on calls. He said his car caught fire early this month and it took fire crews 38 minutes to get to his car. The car was a total loss.
A fire crew from the other end of town responded because units closer to him were out on other runs, and the crew that did respond made two wrong turns getting to him, he said.
He wondered why a unit closer couldn’t have been dispatched or a crew from Prairie Township.
“If you don’t have a better contingency plan, it could be worse the next time,” he said.
He said he had talked with the city’s fire division and the assistant city attorney assigned to the Westland area and would continue to talk with fire officials to get some better response.
Westside Health Advisory Committee
Member Shawn Thomas said the Westside Health Advisory Committee would be meeting Thursday, Sept. 25, at 6 p.m. in Classroom D at Doctors Hospital. One of the topics to be discussed is a farmers’ market for the Westland Area.
The public is invited to attend that meeting as well as the next WAC meeting which will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15, in Classrooms A and B at Doctors Hospital.
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