WHAT WE'RE LEARNING
Check here for updates on the findings that emerge through the feasibility study process, including resident feedback from the various community engagement activities that will be scheduled.
An August 12 Task Force meeting marked the launch of Phase II, with the following steps scheduled to occur through the close of 2020:
Community Engagement Initiatives
Similar to Phase I, the second phase will feature extensive opportunities for community engagement, including but not limited to:
- A second round of stakeholder focus group discussions – Tentatively scheduled to occur late September/early October, these discussions will include representatives from active sports groups, the senior population, recreation and lifetime education, arts and culture, as well as business and community group representatives.
- Two community meetings – In early October, residents will be invited to participate in a meeting that considers potential sites and what facilities and programming components are proposed. At a second community meeting toward the close of 2020, a more detailed proposal, along with anticipated construction and operations costs will be shared with the community.
- Surveys – A second statistically valid survey will be fielded as Phase II draws to a close to measure resident perceptions and support of the emerging proposal. Additional surveying activities are anticipated, including outreach to the community’s youth.
The Task Force will be guiding conversations with potential partners and creation of a Request for Proposals from entities that may have interest in financial and/or programming participation at a community center. This could include but is not limited to local and regional providers of health & wellness components, recreation & leisure programming, education and entertainment opportunities.
A detailed site review process will be undertaken 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.
The Facilities and Programming Subcommittee will take 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.
The Finance Subcommittee’s work will focus 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.
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.
In the spirit of making sure the feasibility study is resident-driven, a critical component of Phase I was to involve residents as much as possible through an extensive community engagement process. This included focus groups and stakeholder interviews, community pop up activities and public meetings. In March, a statistically valid survey was fielded to provide further clarity on community sentiment about this issue.
Phase I also included a detailed review of existing recreation facilities and programming in the community, 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 opportunities 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.
Community Engagement Activities
During the first phase, the CCFTF was 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? Beginning early in 2020, various community engagement activities were conducted:
- Focus Groups and Interviews – These activities were held with representatives of various groups that might benefit from a community center. This included 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. More than 70 people participated in these activities.
- Community Pop Ups – The series of Community Pop Ups brought the CCFTF out to the places and events frequented by residents. These pop ups featured 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. Fourteen pop ups were held, with more than 460 residents participating. Examples of pop ups: State of the City Address, High School basketball games, school theatrical productions, Senior Center, Library, Giant Eagle.
- Community Meeting – A community meeting was held on February 27 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. Approximately 30 residents attended this meeting.
- Statistically Valid Survey – A statistically valid survey was fielded from early March through mid-April. This type of survey process is designed to ensure that responses are reflective of the community as a whole. Three thousand randomly selected households were mailed a survey packet, with 632 responses.
- Survey Report
- Presentation of Survey Findings (part of May 6 CCFTF Meeting Packet)
- Additional Surveys – As the statistically valid survey process nears its end, plans were in place to make a second version of the survey available online to all residents, to obtain additional, anecdotal data. This survey was delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Youth Engagement – A series of youth specific surveys were scheduled to occur, targeting both high school and middle school aged students. These were also delayed due to COVID-19.