By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LEETONIA -- Officials here are looking toward development of athletic fields for both school and community use.
Mayor Artie Altomare, who is also a Leetonia High School teacher and head varsity football coach, said village officials want to coordinate development of a community sports complex just south of the village in Salem Township with the district's plans for athletic fields on the north side of the village.
Although village officials purchased property for a community sports complex nearly two years ago, more pressing infrastructure needs have been a priority in recent months.
The village recently completed a series of waterline and street improvements, including a new high-pressure 12-inch waterline to the industrial park on the southwest side of town.
School plans: Meanwhile, school officials hope the district's new kindergarten-through-12th-grade school on Walnut Street will be completed in time for staff and the district's nearly 900 pupils to occupy it in the fall.
Superintendent Thomas Inchak said finishing the buildings is a priority now, but athletic fields adjacent to the new school are part of the district's plans.
Inchak said the board of education wants the new school building and any outdoor facilities to be available for community as well as school district events.
Fields built near the school for the district's softball teams, for example, could be used by summer youth softball or Little League teams, he said.
However, he said school officials are very interested in helping coordinate plans for the various athletic fields south of town to avoid duplicating the village's efforts.
What's proposed: Village Manager Gary Phillips voiced similar sentiments. He said the various fields at the village's sports complex could be used by the school district.
He said plans are in the preliminary stages, but the sports complex could include baseball, soccer and Little League fields, tennis courts, restroom facilities and a picnic area.
"We want to work with the school district on this," he said. "We don't want to end up with too many baseball fields and no tennis courts."
Phillips said village officials want Salem Township trustees involved in the development because township as well as village residents will use the facility, and because village officials need trustees' cooperation for access to the property.
He said the village wants to access the property either from state Route 344 or from County Road 414-A, also known as Old 344.
He said ideally, the village would like to annex the property. Because the village owns the property and does not pay property taxes, annexation could occur with no loss of tax revenue to the township, he said.
Council began considering purchase of the property in 1998, with discussions about various grants available from the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
According to village records, village officials purchased 13.26 acres from Jean E. Muccio for $7,341 in September 2000.