TROY — Troy City Council agreed to seek additional information about a proposed park levy after more than an hour of discussion and questions from the city’s boards of park commissioners and recreation on Monday.
Nine organizations calling themselves “Operation Recreation 2020” presented information to propose to place a 10-year, 2.0-mills levy to generate $8 million for improvements for Duke Park, the city golf course and the senior citizen facilities. The proposal projects the levy to cost approximately $70 a year per $100,000 property valuation.
The proposal includes $11.2 million in Duke Park improvements for nine new baseball fields, three full sized soccer fields and a $300,000 park department maintenance building; $100,000 to fund the Troy Senior Citizens Center’s improvements, including roof replacement, renovations, new doors and windows, parking lot resurfacing, a shuffleboard court and exterior siding; $1.5 million in clubhouse and course grounds improvements and a new driving range at Miami Shores Golf Course.
The proposal also includes the organization raising $4 million in private donations and possible grants as part of its “public/private endeavor” to help finance the proposed $12 million in improvements.
The board of park commissioners voted to positively recommend the proposed levy to council, while members of the city’s recreation board motion of support failed. While council does not need either boards’ approval about the issue, they were invited to provide their input with special meetings conducted during the council as a whole session.
President of the board of park commissioners Alan Kappers said his concerns would be in the phases of the project if the levy passed.
“There are a lot of questions coming down the pike once money is available to make improvements,” Kappers said.
Kappers said he has more questions for the groups, particularly the youth baseball league organizers, on how the facilities would be maintained.
Commissioners Becky Pierce and Levi Fox both requested a list of priorities within the project and where cuts would be made if the proposal needed to be scaled back, espicially if private donations were not raised. All three commissioners recommended to move forward with the proposal.
The city’s recreation board did not approve the proposal as presented. Doug Jackson attended the meeting, but left before the formal vote.
Marty Hobart, president of the recreation board, said he personally thought it was a good project and the facilities, especially Duke Park, get a lot of use throughout the year. Hobart made the recommendation to approve the proposal with conditions that more information was needed, but failed to have a second motion for support.
Recreation board member Tom Dunn said he was not opposed to the project overall, but said he was concerned that the 2- mills may not be enough to cover the project’s scope with levied funds.
“There’s a big difference between being in favor of the project and then asking the voters to tax themselves when I’m not sure in any shape or form that this is the right amount of money to do what we need it to do,” Dunn said.
Board member Eric Herman said he liked the project as well, but had a lot of questions about the project that were not answered during the meeting.
“I’d have a hard time putting a levy out there with all these questions,” Herman said.
Board member Donna Snipes also said she was uncertain if she could support a levy with the burden falling on property owners.
Following the initial presentation, council member Robin Oda said she didn’t understand why “Operation Recreation 2020,” particularly Troy youth baseball leagues, was behind the proposed levy for city-owned property and improvements and also questioned city staff for presenting the information so quickly.
“It would have been nice for council to have heard of this committee before we got this packet two days ago,” Oda said.
Director of public service and safety Patrick Titterington said the proposal was on a tight timeline to be approved and placed on the November ballot with the county’s board of elections. According to the Miami County Board of Elections, local issues must be filed and certified with the board of elections by Aug. 10 to appear on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot.
Titterington said the main driver of the proposal was the acquisition of the Huelskamp Farm to expand Duke Park to move the city’s baseball complex from flood prone Knoop Fields to the facility.
“To create a complex with nine to 12-13 fields is not something that happens overnight — baseball is obviously seasonal. … The stakeholders were concerned about that because they’ve gone to their private funding sources time and time again because every time it floods it wipes out fences, it wipes out fields, it wipes out dirt — everything. It takes tens of thousands of dollars to replace everything, so that’s part of what has driven that committee to come to us and want to get this accomplished in November,” Titterington said. “This is their request, their project, their issue. Of course we would be intimately involved in the construction and implementation of course, but that’s what their asking and that’s why the timeline is the way it is.”
The Operation Recreation 2020 group represents the following organizations: Troy Junior Baseball, Midwest Ohio Baseball, Troy Christian High School, Troy High School Softball Organization, Troy Junior Trojans Baseball, Troy Post No. 43 and Troy TL Boosters Inc., Troy Soccer Club, Troy Senior Citizens Center and Miami Shores Golf Course.
Reach Melanie Yingst at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews