A subcommittee of the Clinton County Joint Recreation District (JRD) trustees will scout out whether to pursue a smaller-scale indoor facility.
JRD trustees held a virtual meeting Wednesday night, and continued a prior discussion on which direction to go in light of a nearly 3-to-1 margin of defeat of a proposed tax levy on Election Day last fall. The 3-mill, 30-year levy had the aim to create, maintain and improve parks and wellness projects around Clinton County, including a new 50,000 square-foot recreation and wellness facility in Wilmington.
“Is there a more streamlined, economical, focused approach, a more scalable approach — is there a way to do [an indoor recreation and wellness facility] on a smaller scale? And set it up so it could be expanded over time?” asked JRD Trustee Taylor Stuckert during the session.
Formed in 2019, the Clinton County JRD has a countywide mission to provide more wellness and recreation opportunities for Clinton Countians.
Stuckert said it seems to him at this point in time that the way the JRD could assist the county the most is through “an indoor facility of some kind.” Further, the JRD can take on the role of a prospector and explore the doable possibilities for a facility based upon what community members have said since last fall’s vote results, added Stuckert.
And, if it turns out that JRD trustees think it’s the next logical step, then the JRD could seek grant funds to pay for a professionally done revision study “to explore approaching a different way of approaching an indoor center,” Stuckert said.
Such a study would provide cost estimates for a different and smaller indoor facility.
JRD Trustee Reneé LaPine said Wednesday she’s heard this same “scalable idea” from an elected official and from citizens — that is, the idea to start small with an indoor facility and perhaps down the road add different modules onto it.
Last November the Clinton County Recreation & Wellness Center, to be centrally located in Wilmington, was envisioned to include a competition lap pool, a warm water therapy pool, an ADA-compliant, zero-entry recreational pool for young children and families, an indoor walking and running track, a gymnasium, an indoor basketball court, and fitness resources.
Another sort of feedback JRD trustees have heard is the public would like to see a more diverse approach to funding.
A problem with doing that, however, is the JRD as an entity can only levy a property tax, according to Stuckert.
“We may be able to explore other funding avenues, such as private-public partnerships through donations and sponsorships,” Stuckert stated.
The public’s feedback regarding funding included the desire to see sales tax revenue or lodging tax dollars involved, he said.
On another matter, JRD trustees were surprised to learn there is about a $21,000 price tag to placing the tax issue on the ballot last November.
Stuckert commented there is a cost to put a levy on the ballot, something that seems kind of strange to him, “almost undemocratic in a way.”
The JRD has no revenue, and thus no practical way to pay the bill, said Stuckert.
“I feel like the communication between entities and the board of elections should probably improve on this matter, because if it is being communicated, it’s not being done in a way that jars our memory,” said Stuckert.
Clinton County Board of Elections Director Shane C. Breckel was given an opportunity to respond Thursday to the JRD’s comments concerning the cost of having the levy on the 2019 ballot.
Breckel said anyone placing a question or issue on the ballot is assessed charges, and the board of elections provides cost projections upon request. No request however was made by anyone from the JRD committee, he said.
The next JRD meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 10, though the subcommittee is expecting to start its work before then. The subcommittee is comprised of JRD Trustees Jermaine Isaac, Kyle Rudduck and Reneé Lapine.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.