But citizens don’t want to pay for repairs
By Bert Lehman
Residents value historical buildings but don’t want to pay for renovations for the city’s Rec Center.
That was the message Clintonville City Administrator Sharon Eveland shared with members of the Clintonville Parks & Recreation Committee at its Aug. 29 meeting.
The information was from a recent community survey the city conducted in an effort to gather community input regarding the city’s Rec Center.
A total of 259 citizens responded to the survey, with 219 surveys completed, Eveland said. Around 70 percent of the respondents were female.
A small percentage of business owners completed the survey.
“I thought that was important to capture because they have a unique perspective to bring to the table,” she said.
The majority of the respondents were 38 to 47 years old.
When asked if the Rec Center has historical value to the city of Clintonville, Eveland said 109 respondents answered yes, 61 answered no, and 51 answered maybe.
To gauge where the community stands regarding historic preservation, respondents were asked how important preserving historic structures are to them. Sixty-nine percent of the respondents strongly agreed or agreed that it is important to preserve historic structures.
But when asked how much the city should be expected to pay to restore the Rec Center, 36 percent said the city should not pay anything to restore the building. Twenty-eight percent said the city should spend up to $1 million to restore the building.
When respondents were asked how much they were willing to pay in extra taxes or fees in order to remodel and preserve the Rec Center, almost half said they were unwilling to pay any increase in taxes or fees. Roughly 30 percent said they’d be willing to pay up to $100 extra per year.
“Very few respondents are personally willing to pay any extra in order to preserve the facility,” Eveland said.
Around 25 percent of the respondents said the Rec Center renovation costs are too high when compared to the value the building brings the city. But 23 percent also said the costs are not too high when comparing it to the benefits of having the building.
Most respondents said the city should restore the building when asked if the city should restore it, tear it down, shut the facility down but not tear the building down, seek a developer to purchase the building even if it means the building will be torn down, or seek a developer to purchase the building only if the developer is going to restore the building.
“Very few in essence believe the city should do nothing,” Eveland said.
She added that it is also clear that most respondents don’t want to pay for renovating the building.
“The community is fairly evenly split between keeping it and seeing it go,” Eveland said. “But the larger majority, even those who want to see it stay, don’t want to see the city spend any money, and they themselves don’t want to spend any money on it. I don’t know if that helps with any of the decision making.”
Eveland told the committee that the survey responses included a variety of suggestions as to what to do with the building, and activities that could take place in the building.
The committee voted to refer the issue to the city’s Facilities Committee to determine what direction the city should move forward with regarding the future of the Rec. Center.
Also during the meeting, Clintonville Parks & Recreation Director Justin McAuly asked the committee for direction on what it wants him to do regarding the city’s Rec Center for the upcoming winter.
He told the committee that if the city isn’t going to heat the building this winter, the city should consider disconnecting the gas meter from the building.
If it isn’t disconnected, the city would have to pay roughly $330 in base fees in 2018.
He said the city will also need to winterize the building if it’s not going to be heated. This would include shutting the water off, disconnecting the water meter and draining the water lines.
The committee voted to recommend to the city council that the city close the Rec Center building prior to the upcoming winter.
Food pantry plans
Dave Schmidt, a representative from the Clintonville Food Pantry, spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting and told the committee that the food pantry is in the process of trying to rent a new building to relocate the food pantry to.
“It’s going a little tough,” Schmidt told the committee. “We’re talking rent anywhere from $6,000 to $8,000 a year, minimum.”
Schmidt also acknowledged that moving all the items associated with the food pantry will be a problem.
He did express appreciation toward the city of Clintonville.
“As far as what the city has done for us so far, having us have a very minimal, minimal rent, has been great for the pantry,” Schmidt said. “It’s been keeping us going and one way or another we will find a way to cover our rent (at a new building).”