Thursday, February 27, 2003

Agreement on Mason center in final stage

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MASON - After years of discussion, it has come down to the wire for city and school officials to finish the operational agreement for the Mason Community Center.

But both sides still expect to have the agreement signed before Saturday's dedication of the center at 6050 Mason-Montgomery Road.

"It's been an understanding since the beginning that we wanted the agreement done before the center opened," said Eric Kantor, school board president.

City Council voted 5-1 to approve a draft of the agreement at its meeting Monday, with the understanding that there still were some issues that needed to be resolved. Representatives from both sides met Tuesday and, by the end of the meeting, had shaken hands on the agreement.

Lawyers were taking a final look at the paperwork Wednesday.

The idea of the joint construction project started in 1999. The $21 million center was paid for through a bond issue passed in 2000.

Among the highlights of the 99-year agreement:

Over three years, the school district will contribute $2.2 million and the city will give $1.7 million. Officials consider this time a "stabilization period," until sales of passes are able to pay for the operation and maintenance costs, Kantor said.

Passholder fees will increase at least $50 a year during the years that the center does not break even. Family passes now range from $375 for residents to $600 for nonresidents.

The schools will pay for capital repairs through 2005. After that, those costs will be shared based on the percentage of use by the schools and city.

The city keeps ownership of the 74-acre parcel. The city also is responsible for the community center scheduling , including the shared areas.

"It's something that no one else has accomplished before," said school Superintendent Kevin Bright.


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