BOARDMAN 5-year plan envisions parks recreation center

The recreation center could be built as early as 2004.
BOARDMAN -- New land acquisitions, an all-inclusive recreation and senior center and improvements to several park facilities are a small part of what township park officials plan to accomplish over the next five years.
Park officials revealed a new five-year master plan Tuesday. The plan was generated with the assistance of Cleveland-based planning-engineering firm Brandstetter Carroll Zofcin Inc. Officials also drew ideas from visiting other community parks around the state.
Daniel Slagle Jr., executive director of parks, said the plan is divided into two essential parts. The first deals with improvements to buildings, and the second will deal with land acquisition and new development.
Some building improvements include renovations to the St James Meeting House and Georgeanna Parker Activity Center, additional parking for the Maag Outdoor Theater, additional restrooms and newly connected walking trails throughout the park. Total cost is estimated at $935,000.
Rest of plan: In the second half of the plan, Slagle said officials hope to expand the southern portion of the park to McClurg Road. This half is substantially more costly, with a proposed community activity and senior center slated to cost the lion's share.
The recreation center would house a connected but separate area for senior citizens, two full-size basketball-volleyball courts, recreational and competitive swimming with a 500-seat capacity, an auxiliary court and a multipurpose room.
There will also be a game room and youth multipurpose room. A walking track and fitness center could be added after the initial construction but are not in the immediate plans.
Slagle said the center is a direct response to what residents have said is needed here. He said many individuals who work with juveniles said the facility is needed and the school board endorses the idea.
Slagle said the facility will likely operate on a membership basis of about $400 annually per family, with township residents given first priority. Nonresidents who wish to join may do so at a higher rate.
Operating cost: Officials estimate an annual operating cost at $1.7 million. Membership revenue should sustain the facility without the need for any additional tax dollars beyond the initial building cost.
To cover the $24 million initial cost of the five-year plan, officials will ask voters to approve a 1.6-mill levy over 25 to 30 years. The recreation center will cost an estimated $19 million of the total $24 million and could be built as early as 2004.
Slagle said the levy would increase the park's operating revenue, meaning the park district would not need to ask for additional funds for some time.
Park commissioner Jack Russell said the recreational center would be vital to attracting residents to the community.
"If we are to draw people here after they finish college, we need these facilities," he said. "If we do not have these facilities and other areas do, we simply cannot compete."

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