Possible town meeting looming for Activities Complex issue

Posted 6/17/99

There may be a silver lining to the Wellman Activities Complex issue after all.

After several…

By Mark Adkins

There may be a silver lining to the Wellman Activities Complex issue after …

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Possible town meeting looming for Activities Complex issue


There may be a silver lining to the Wellman Activities Complex issue after all.

After several…

By Mark Adkins

There may be a silver lining to the Wellman Activities Complex issue after all.

After several heated Wellman City Council meetings spent debating the proposed recreational facility, a joint meeting of the council and the Wellman Activities Complex study committee produced some positive steps toward deciding the fate of the project.

Comments from city clerk Donna Wade set up discussion on the possible town meeting.

Wade told the council that, after speaking with the city attorney late last week, the attorney felt it would be in the council’s best interest to “step away from the Activities Complex issue for a while.”

“He said that the council needs to decide what they can and can’t spend on this project,” she said. “He feels there does need to be a spending cap, but maybe before there is more discussion on the issue, that the council step back and take a break from discussing the complex for about a month or so. That way everybody will be able to get a better look at things.

“He feels the council needs to do what is best for the community,” she added. “He suggested a forum being sent to community members. It wouldn’t be like starting over again, it would be re-grouping. He just feels this constant re-hash of the issue and where it is going isn’t doing the community or the council any good.”

Committee member and Wellman Area Foundation spokesman Allen Leichty suggested to the council Monday that a town meeting, strictly for informational purposes, be held on the issue.

“We need to get people from the community to this meeting… pack them in and pack the information in to them,” he said. “After this meeting, there should be a follow up in the form of a meeting or somehow after the community has had a chance to take a look at the issue.”

Foundation and committee member Royce Buckwalter was in favor of Leichty’s idea and took it a step further.

“We need to have all of the experts in relation to this issue at that meeting,” he said. “Having someone there to explain the rules and regulations of the TIFF district and what the TIFF funds can and can’t be used for would be one area.”

Along with having a TIFF funds expert on hand, members of both the council and study committee suggested project architect Steve Rohrbach be at the meeting.

“Mr. Rohrbach informed me that the city hadn’t given him the final numbers on the project because you, Mr. Mayor, hadn’t released them yet,” Leichty said. “I would like to have all of the final numbers on costs and so on available at that meeting.”

Mayor Wilbur Swartzendruber replied that he would get together with Rohrbach and get the final numbers on the project, from the city’s end, to the architect.

Swartzendruber told the committee members and some concerned citizens on hand that the council would set a timetable for the possible town meeting.

“We can’t let the meeting become a free-for-all at the end, though,” council member Mike Slagle warned. “We need to keep this on an agenda and have it be very structured.

“I think this informational meeting is a very good idea,” he added. “I have heard some incredible rumors, some that I don’t even know where they came from, on this issue. It’s time we got the right information out to the community.”

Prior to discussion on the informational meeting, discussion was centered around the funds from the TIFF district and what they could and could not be used for.

Council member Max Lewis told both sides that there was $50,000 a year available for spending on the building of the facility only.

“You can’t use TIFF funds for operational purposes,” Lewis said. “We could only use up to $400,000 of TIFF funds for this building. Any more funds from the TIFF district would have to come from a vote.”

Despite Lewis’ comments, study committee member Lori Yoder still had questions about the TIFF funds.

“It bothers me that if you can’t use the TIFF funds for operational purposes, then you can’t use them after the building is built,” she said. “You have still have a monetary issue for operational purposes then.”

Yoder added that she would still like to know what the phrase “continued support” meant from the original approved issue dealing with the Activities Complex.

Swartzendruber polled the council on Yoder’s question and the following answers were given:

J. Carl Yoder - “$350,000 plus moral support.”

Lewis - “$350,000 plus helping run the building.”

Murval Weidlein - “$350,000 plus operational and incidental costs, if they occur.”

Slagle - “$350,000 plus a budget decision every year after the first year that was committed to by the Foundation.”

Jelene McCain - “$350,000 plus landscaping, providing the property and paving the parking lot.”

Swartzendruber added that the city’s funding of the project would be $250,000 for the building and $100,000 for landscaping.

“I was under the impression that the Foundation would be handling the expenses of the first year of operating the facility,” he said.

After those answers were given to Yoder’s questions, concerned citizen Cindy Slaubaugh commented that “I still think this is putting the cart before the horse. The community needs to be in favor of this project or there might not be any memberships bought and then where we will be? You will just have a fancy building if you don’t have the community behind the project.”