Committee exploring concepts for rec center

ThisWeek Community News – October 13, 2010

Local officials in New Albany and Plain Township are studying the feasibility of a recreation center that could serve the New Albany-Plain Local School District and members of the community.

“We’re looking at some different concepts,” said Plain Township trustee Dave Ferguson, who chairs the recreation center committee. “We’re trying to understand the school’s needs and ways we could collaborate.”

The school district recently received a campus master plan from a school committee that studied the building and athletics facility needs for the next 10 years.

The study, prepared by the committee and representatives from MSI of Columbus, indicates the district does not have enough room on its central campus for all of the athletics fields needed. The plan calls for relocation of the middle school football field and the varsity softball field and tennis courts and states that a community “field house would provide much needed indoor sports practice facilities.”

Village officials also are talking about the need for a retail fitness center in the village center. In the village center master plan, planners from MSI recommended a retail fitness center at Market Square, something that would bring more people into the retail area. Cyclists and runners already gather there to begin their treks many evenings during good weather.

Ferguson told his fellow trustees Oct. 6 that the committee is talking to all of those entities and working with the Y to identify amenities the center would need, potential locations and cost estimates.

“We like the Y model, but we need to look at some things and get a couple of real viable options,” Ferguson said.

The recreation center committee was formed by New Albany Mayor Nancy Ferguson in February. She and New Albany Village Council member Chris Wolfe serve on the committee, along with representatives from Plain Township, the New Albany-Plain Local School District and the Joint Park District.

The group commissioned a public survey in the summer. Columbus-based public opinion research firm Saperstein Associates contacted 303 residents and reported 50 percent said they would be willing to fund a recreation center.

The survey, which cost $10,000, was funded jointly by the school district, the village, Plain Township, the New Albany Community Foundation, the Joint Park District and the local Y.