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Presentation raises concerns about community center

Community Center presentation met with many questions

Posted on Jan. 3, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — At a busy first Goshen City Council meeting of 2013, a presentation on the proposed Goshen Community Center attracted the most attention.

Project director Bruce Stahly gave the council a rundown of where the idea first began through the most recent details, though the council did not have to take any action on the center Wednesday night. Stahly also added that a business report would be available in the coming days to paint a more complete picture of how much it would cost to operate the center.

Without those answers in hand, however, many at Wednesday night’s council meeting had serious concerns and voiced them during the public comment period.

Cost to the taxpayer, membership fees and the effect on local businesses were the topics most discussed, as many residents stood to speak.

The presentation outlined the total cost of the project at $35,575,000, which would equate to just under $85 per year in taxes on the median home value in the city.

When asked, Stahly admitted the center was not projected to see profit in the first four years, but would be self-sustaining after that.

Several residents, however, pointed to the Goshen College swimming pool that closed last year, and worried that the community center’s pools would suffer the same fate.

Others cited the $200 annual membership fee for an individual, along with the increased taxes, for reasons they were not in favor of the center.

Several gym owners added they believed the community center to be in competition with them and said they felt they were already offering many of the services the center would also offer.

Near the end of the public comment period, Bill Rieth, who has served on the community center board, asked the council to simply allow the democratic process to take place. “We’re only asking for the public to vote on this. We want to let the peopel of Goshen say ‘yea’ or ‘nay,’” he said.

Rieth also said that the board would intend to subcontract with private enterprises on services that would be perceived as competition.

The council did not have to make a decision Wednesday night, but will vote at the next council meeting on Jan. 15 on whether or not it will authorize placing a question for the community center on the ballot.

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