Tuesday, October 26, 1999

Mason hiring two consultants

Planning begins for complex

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — Officials Monday night hired two consulting firms to oversee planning of a multimillion-dollar recreation center in this fast-growing city.

        Council signed off on two contracts — one for $15,000 with James Garges, a certified leisure professional, and one for $11,000 with Dublin, Ohio-based DeJong & Associates Inc., an architectural design consultant.

        The firms will gather input from residents and begin planning the type of facilities the community would like to have.

        “There is a strong desire to have resident input on this project,” said Mason City Manager Scot Lahrmer. “It is critical for us to reach as many people as possible to ensure that what we build will be of value to all residents.”

        Last week, city officials and the Mason Board of Education unveiled plans to build a complex for a new high school, recreation center with an indoor pool, and a city building. The complex would be built on 73 acres on Mason-Montgomery Road, across from Rose Hill Cemetery, between Main Street and the current high school.

        No cost estimates have been prepared, but city officials say it will be the first joint project between the city and school district to require such a substantial capital investment.

        “This recreation center has been a dream of the city's for a long time,” Mr. Lahrmer said, noting a recreation center was first discussed by council 11 years ago.

        Mr. Lahrmer said Mr. Garges, who has done consulting work on recreation centers for communities such as Loveland, Reynoldsburg and Heath, will facilitate survey and data collection and determine current and future recreation needs.

        He will also assist city staff in the creation of budget requirements and estimate revenues, including cost centers, staffing, fees and charges, and building operations.

        Mr. Lahrmer said the city hired DeJong & Associates, which Mason City Schools hired to facilitate its dialogue on school facility planning, to maintain a close working relationship on this project. He said the firm will coordinate issues related to joint use and maintenance of the recreation facility.

        “A project like this comes along once in a lifetime. The trick will be to cover all the bases by getting input from the largest possible number of residents,” said Councilman Jim Fox.


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