After a 10-month study process, in late June the Community Center Feasibility Task Force (CCFTF) provided a Phase I update to City Council and shared that their findings indicated they should transition to Phase II.
Early in the process, the Task Force determined the study should be conducted in two phases. In Phase I, the CCFTF was seeking answers to three questions: What kind of community center makes sense for UA? Do we want a community center? Do we need a community center? If the answer to the last two questions was “YES,” the study would transition to Phase II, drilling into details such as what facilities to include, where a community center might be located, and the costs for construction, operations and ongoing maintenance.
Phase I Findings
A critical component of Phase I was extensive resident engagement, including focus groups and stakeholder interviews, community pop up activities and public meetings. In March, a statistically valid survey provided further clarity on community sentiment. Phase I also included a review of existing recreation facilities and programming in UA, market trends and facilities in peer communities. This information, when combined with the feedback obtained through the community engagement activities helped the Task Force identify at a high-level what components should be included in a community center.
- Aquatics facilities with lap lanes, active play and options for year-round swim lessons and exercise
- Indoor sports, such as basketball, volleyball and pickleball
- Fitness facilities, including cardio-vascular equipment, weights, exercise studios and running/walking track
- Dedicated senior programming and multi-purpose facilities that can accommodate older adult activities but also be available for other uses
- General program, classroom and gathering spaces
- Youth and teen activities
- Various support facilities, including locker rooms and restrooms, lobby, child watch facilities, storage and administration needs.
An August 12 Task Force meeting marked the launch of Phase II, with the following steps scheduled to occur:
Potential Sites – A detailed site review process is being undertaken by the Facilities & Partnerships Subcommittee to identify the most feasible options, using a set of selection criteria, such as:
- Site size and flexibility – a preferred site would need to accommodate all the desired uses within a community center, provide adequate parking and if possible, have the ability to expand and grow.
- Site control – factors such as current ownership and usage, acquisition costs, zoning and neighborhood compatibility would all be important considerations for identifying one or more prospective sites.
- Location – feedback from Phase I indicated a strong desire for a community center to be centrally located and easily accessed by all members of the community, young and old alike.
- Preservation of green space – park land in Upper Arlington is already limited and residents have indicated a strong desire for a community center project to not take away from existing park uses.
- Creative funding and partnership opportunities
Building Program – The Facilities and Programming Subcommittee is also taking a deeper dive into the programming elements within a community center. This will include allocation of space for the various uses, and the subsequent development of building concepts as/when up to two preferred potential sites have been identified.
Potential Partnerships – The Task Force is guiding conversations with potential partners that may have interest in financial and/or programming participation. This could include local and regional providers of health & wellness components, recreation & leisure programming, education and entertainment opportunities.
Business Plan – The Finance Subcommittee’s work is focused on the development of a comprehensive overview of the costs associated with a community center, such as:
- Cost estimates for construction, which could include land acquisition
- Operations and ongoing maintenance cost estimates
- Revenue estimates and cost recovery models
- Funding mechanisms for both construction and ongoing operations that could include tapping into existing revenue streams, as well as exploring partnership opportunities, private donations, and economic development tools such as Tax Increment Financing.
Community Engagement – The Community Engagement Subcommittee is mapping out a schedule of community engagement activities, including but not limited to:
- A second round of stakeholder focus group discussions – Scheduled for early October, with representatives from active sports groups, the senior population, recreation and lifetime education, arts and culture, as well as businesses and community groups.
- Two community meetings:
- Community Meeting I: 7-8:30 pm, Thursday, October 8 – at this meeting, the consultants will share details of the potential sites and show rough building concepts depicting how the proposed facilities and programming components could be included. This meeting will be held remotely using Zoom. Meeting details and access information will be shared soon.
- Community Meeting II: Early December, details tbd – at this second meeting, a more detailed proposal will be shared, along with anticipated construction and operations costs.
- Survey – A second statistically valid survey will be fielded in November to measure resident perceptions and support of the emerging proposal.
Task Force Meeting Schedule
Throughout the Phase II study process, the Task Force welcomes and encourages resident participation. While typically being held remotely via Zoom, Task Force and subcommittee meetings are open to the public, with the following scheduled at this time:
- Task Force of the Whole:
- 7 pm, Wednesday, October 14
- 7 pm, Thursday, November 12
- Facilities & Partnerships Subcommittee:
- 3 pm, Monday, October 5
- 4 pm, Monday, October 12
- 4 pm, Monday, October 26
- 4 pm, Monday, November 9
- Finance Subcommittee:
- Noon, Tuesday, October 6
- Noon, Tuesday, October 20
- Noon, Tuesday, November 3
Visit the News, Meetings & Events section of the CCFTF website for meeting agendas and access information.
Final Report to City Council
The Task Force hopes to bring its work to a conclusion late 2020/early 2021, with a report to City Council. If the Task Force concludes that a community center is a viable proposition for the community, and should Council be in agreement that a community center should be pursued, the issue would likely go before Upper Arlington voters in May of 2021.
For additional details about the study process, visit the CCFTF website.