Friday, December 27, 2002

Sycamore community center revisited

Trustees to study financing options

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

SYCAMORE TWP. - Township trustees will resume work in the new year to determine what happens next to the community's plans to build a $14 million community recreation center.

They took a hiatus in November, after voters rejected a five-year, 1-mill levy that would have annually generated $556,000 for the center's operating costs.The owner of a $100,000 home would have paid about $30 a year.

"We put everything on hold until the first of the year," Trustee Cliff Bishop said. But, "it's a big priority. A community center is one of the most important things you can do in a community. (And) anything I can do to help my community is what I want to do."

There's still the matter of financing the center's construction behind Sycamore's Kenwood Road administration building. Trustees have no plans to scale back the endeavor that would entail a one-story, 78,000-square-foot facility to house meeting rooms, gymnasium, three basketball courts, an indoor track and pool and other amenities.

But they said that they're paralyzed until a pending lawsuit resolves whether money accrued from tax-increment financing agreements can be used for the center's construction. They have also discussed issuing bonds.

Mr. Bishop still wants to start talking about the center next month. Financing plans must be firmed up, he said, so that the township can decide whether to pursue another operating levy.

"My feeling is that it's really hard to generate operating money when there's nothing there to operate yet," he said. "I would be in favor of building a recreation center (first) so that people know what they're getting."

Trustees have blamed the economy for the lack of support at the polls, which leaves them skeptical about going before voters again.

Residents "are not interested in that right now," trustee Clete McDaniel said. "The way the economy is (and) the way the world is ... I just don't think it's the right time."


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