A key 2018 Parks & Recreation Comprehensive Plan recommendation is that the City revisit the issue of inadequate indoor community gathering space. As a direct result of feedback from a survey that showed strong support for fully investigating the potential for a community center in Upper Arlington, in July of 2019 City Council established the Community Center Feasibility Task Force (CCFTF)—comprised of 16 resident volunteers—to lead this process. By the close of the year, the CCFTF had selected a consultant team led by Williams Architects, with OHM Advisors and PROS Consulting.
The feasibility study is being conducted in two phases. During the first phase, the CCFTF is seeking the answers to three core questions: What kind of community center makes sense for Upper Arlington? Do we want a community center? Do we need a community center? If the answer to the last two questions is “YES,” the study will transition to a second phase that drills into the details, such as what facilities to include, where a community center might be located, and the costs for construction, operations and ongoing maintenance.
As the New Year begins, the CCFTF is embarking on an extensive phase of community engagement activities.
Three components are critical to successfully gathering and considering residents thoughts and ideas within this process:
- First, we need residents to participate. We know the CCFTF, City staff and our consultants don’t have all the answers and ideas.
- Second, at this point, residents are encouraged to think expansively about what a community center could be. The study is in the brainstorming and information gathering phase, so any and all ideas are welcome. The hard work of narrowing and focusing will come later.
- Finally, while an email or a conversation is helpful, it isn’t as impactful as taking part in a survey, pop up, community meeting or focus group. These feedback channels are structured to truly capture, account for and analyze all of the feedback that we get. Feedback received through a less structured channel is much more likely to get lost in the noise of everything else.
Focus Groups and Interviews
Interviews and focus group meetings are occurring between mid-January and early-February with representatives of various groups that might benefit from a community center. These groups include active sports groups, arts and culture organizations, the senior population, recreation instructors, schools and early education providers, local civic groups and non-profits, businesses, and health and wellness entities.
Community Pop Ups
A series of Community Pop Ups have been scheduled to bring the work of the CCFTF out to the places and events frequented by residents. These pop ups will feature quick, idea generating activities for residents to engage in, as well as provide information on how to stay up-to-date and involved in the process.
Dates and locations for the Community Pop Ups are as follows:
- UA High School boys basketball home game – 6 pm, Friday, January 31
- UA High School girls basketball home game – 6 pm, Friday, February 7
- Volunteer UA Expo – 10 am-1 pm, Saturday, February 8, Tremont Library
- Elementary Schools Concourse Gallery Reception – 2-4 pm, Sunday, February 9
- Tremont Library – 2-4 pm, Sunday, February 16
- UA Stage Dinner – 4:30 pm, Wednesday, February 19, UA High School Cafeteria
- Giant Eagle Market District (Kingsdale) – 6-8 pm, Friday, February 21
- UA High School Production of Cinderella – 1:30 pm, Saturday, February 22
- UA Senior Center – 10 am-Noon, Thursday, February 27
- Hastings Middle School Production of Frozen – 6:30 pm, Friday, March 6
- Middle Schools Concourse Gallery Reception – 2-4 pm, Sunday, March 8
If you are planning to attend any of these events, we encourage you to look for the CCFTF Community Pop Up display and to participate in the idea-generating activities that will be presented.
6-8 pm, Thursday, February 27, UA Senior Center, 1945 Ridgeview Road
A community meeting has been scheduled to provide residents an opportunity to learn more about the feasibility study, and to provide feedback on the primary questions being addressed in this first phase.
A statistically valid survey will be fielded from late February through the end of March. This type of survey process is designed to ensure that responses are reflective of the community as a whole. Three thousand randomly selected households will be mailed a survey packet that includes a cover letter, hard copy of the survey with a postage-paid envelope, as well as a link to complete the survey online if preferred.
As the statistically valid survey process nears its end, a second version of the survey will be made available online to all residents who wish to participate. The feedback gathered through this supplemental process will be used as additional, anecdotal data.
A series of youth specific focus groups will be held late February, targeting both high school and middle school aged students. A youth workbook will also be made available for elementary students to complete.
Members of the CCFTF strongly encourage residents to be involved in the feasibility study—your feedback is vital to determining how the City should proceed with this important community issue. Full details of the work of the CCFTF can be found at uacommunitycenter.com.