Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Costs push debate on W. Chester center site


Trustees again put off choice for more data

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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WEST CHESTER TWP. - Saying they need more information, township trustees on Tuesday postponed for the second time in two weeks a decision on where to place the proposed $20 million community center.

But is appearing more likely the 110,000-square-foot facility will go on land in the Union Centre Boulevard area that would cost the township $2.5 million.

West Chester owns 150 acres at Beckett Park a half mile away - but overall, it may be cheaper for the township to buy the land for sale than to try to develop the 110,000-square-foot center at the park, leaders said Tuesday. That's because the park does not have utilities, roads or walking paths installed yet, and the parcel for sale does, Trustee Catherine Stoker said.

She wants the center to go at Union Centre but one trustee is undecided and the third trustee has said it should go at the park.

"I like the visibility and the fact that it will excite a downtown center and encourage good quality business growth in downtown," Stoker said.

To install sewer and water, storm water control and electricity at the park for the center, it would cost the township $1.2 to $1.5 million, trustees were told in special session Tuesday night.

Or, the township can purchase 21 acres on the southeast corner of West Chester Road and Union Centre Boulevard across from Lakota West High School.

More than half of the parcel, 11 acres, will be donated by the landowner - West Chester 75 Inc., which also would build a park with benches, fountains and a clock tower.

Residents who want the center at the park note that the township likely will have to install infrastructure anyway for the Muhlhauser Barn. The barn is being moved from Fairfield and renovated into a community conference center. The main message to trustees Tuesday from the 50 residents who packed township hall, however, was to build the center - now.

West Chester neighbor Bob Vincent says Union Centre is a natural fit.

"The community center is desperately needed," Vincent, 54, said. "But it's very obvious. When you add up the dollars between the two different sites and there is land being donated, it's a no-brainer. The center needs to go across from the high school."

E-mail jedwards@enquirer.com




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