Goshen News, Goshen, IN

January 28, 2013

Goshen school board tables referendum vote

School project tied to proposed Goshen Community Center

By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS

GOSHEN — They want a new pool. They’ve also decided to wait.

Goshen Board of School Trustees members Monday voted to table the issue of looking at whether or not to send a proposed $7 million school rehabilitation project to a referendum this spring.

The move hinged largely on a statement by members of the executive committee of Goshen Community Center Inc., a not-for-profit entity recently created to manage and oversee a proposed $27.6 million Goshen Community Center project through Goshen city officials — a project directly connected to the school corporation’s planned $7 million improvement project.

In their statement, provided to board members Monday as part of their meeting packets, Community Center committee members indicated they have decided to change the referendum date from May 7 to Nov. 5. They also indicated they’re going to look for ways to pare down the cost of the center.

Goshen Community Schools Superintendent Diane Woodworth read the statement for the board on the committee’s behalf.

“The Executive Committee of the Goshen Community Center Inc. announced this evening that the school and city referendum will be changed from May 7 to Nov. 5,” Woodworth said. “There are a number of reasons this decision was made. We have heard many people express two main concerns, first that the timing seemed rushed to some and patrons have not had adequate time to become familiar with the project, and second that many in the community are concerned about the cost of the facility. By making this decision we will have the opportunity to have many more community meetings to ensure that the public is adequately informed.

“In addition, the committee will investigate possible ways of decreasing the cost of the project,” Woodworth continued. “Included in this investigation will be site location, the possibility of securing additional endowment funds through grants and contributions, and reviewing possible ways the construction cost can be reduced without jeopardizing the business plan and ongoing viability of the project.

“The committee feels that this delay will allow for more community input as we continue to explore the many possible benefits this community center can provide to the Goshen community.”

A two-part proposal

Goshen City Council members at their Jan. 15 meeting narrowly passed a vote to send their portion of the two-part collaborative project to a referendum this May.

The bulk of the city’s portion — the community center project — would involve the construction of a $27.6 million facility located at the former city garage property on the Millrace’s west side. The proposed facility would include an aquatic center with a wellness and therapy pool; a recreation pool and a competition pool; a gymnasium; a fitness center with an indoor track; and meeting rooms.

For their part, Goshen school board members were scheduled Monday to vote on whether or not to include their portion of the joint effort — the $7 million rehabilitation project — on the same May referendum. That project would involve approximately $7 million in renovations and construction at Goshen High School and Middle School.

As part of those renovations, the pool areas of both schools would be converted to new spaces to help alleviate space problems in music programs and add additional workout and classroom spaces. The pool facilities at the new community center would then be used for all school pool-related recreational and sports needs. As part of that agreement, school officials have pledged $10 million in funding to the overall cost of the Goshen Community Center.

Vote postponed

In light of Goshen Community Center Inc.’s decision to postpone the referendum until November, board members Monday voted to table their own preliminary determination hearing until a later date in order to give community members more time to research the school’s portion of the two-part project.

According to Board President Jane Troup, the hearing will be reopened at an as-of-yet undisclosed time closer to the November referendum, but with enough time remaining to ensure that the board can comply with all the legal requirements necessary for holding a November referendum.