Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Goshen Community Center proponents come forward with details

Organizers of the push for a Goshen Community Center have more details about the financial committment needed for the endeavor.

Posted on Dec. 7, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Dec. 7, 2012 at 5:46 a.m.

Editor’s note: Since the city of Goshen’s plans have changed, reference to closing the Shanklin Park pool has been removed from the story.

GOSHEN — After years of quietly gathering information, proponents of the Goshen Community Center are moving into the public eye with their proposal, including the price tag for the Goshen taxpayers who will have sole say whether the project is worth building.

At the most, taxpayers with a home valued at Goshen’s median value of $107,200 will pay another $84.48 in taxes per year with the bonds issued by the City of Goshen and by Goshen Community Schools, according to Dr. Don Minter and Bruce Stahly, organizers of the project. That’s $7.04 per month.

Stahly has presented details of the plan to five focus groups and today will present the plan to the Rotary Club, he said Thursday afternoon.

They go through the project, which would place a $27.6 million building on the old Goshen Street Department site across the Millrace Canal from downtown. The center would house an aquatic center with a recreation pool and a competition pool, it would have a gymnasium and a fitness center, and it would also have meeting space for community use.

“We’re providing more amenities than any one group could do alone,” Stahly said.

Stahly retired as superintendent of Goshen Community Schools this year and became director of the community center project, leading the nonprofit group that wants this to happen.

They want to do it, he said, “Really to build community. It’s not just a community building.”

“I think the building will be built for the common good of this community,” Stahly said.

He also said, “Goshen is on a bright path, but we also have to look out into the future in 10 years, in 15 years and say, ‘All right, how can we help this community become even better?’ That’s why I am interested in this and that’s why I think Don is interested in this, because this would be a community center and we do feel like it would build our community and be an even stronger community.”

The new facility would replace the pools at Goshen Middle School and Goshen High School, allowing the school system to maintain pools in one facility instead of two separate ones, and it would also allow other users — like the city, Greencroft or IU Health Goshen — to share some of the maintenance costs.

The site would become self-sustaining after five years, according to the group’s business study.

They’ll ask the city council and school board in January to start the process that will end in May with voters getting to choose whether to allow the city to issue $18.4 million in bonds (including interest) and whether to allow the schools to issue $17.5 million in bonds.

The school referendum would have the schools giving $10 million to the community center project and the rest to upgrades at the high school and middle school, upgrades that have been in the works for roughly five years, Stahly said.

Minter said that if the community votes no on the two issues at next year’s referendum, the center won’t happen. “That’s really the core question,” he said.

If the school referendum is approved, some of the school improvements will proceed, Stahly said, “the community center would be dead, for sure. If both don’t pass there will not be a community center. The possibility would still exist that the school could build a competitive swimming pool with that $10 million, but then you don’t have a recreation pool, you have no community access, you don’t have a therapeutic pool, you don’t have all of those other things, but that possibility does exist.

“We firmly believe that we want the whole thing,” Stahly said.

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