Fitness Center or Community Center

Last week City Administration held a meeting at the Community Center to discuss closing down the current Community Center and replace it with a Fitness Center at the Tri-County Mall redevelopment.

Great news for the residents of Springdale?  Well, maybe.

After weighing everything known today about the proposal my current position is:

While there is still due diligence and information requests outstanding (and changes possible with the development) I feel the proposal to relocate our Community Center to the Tri-County development fundamentally does not meet the needs of a Community Center for all the residents of Springdale.  I feel the current design fills an important need for the development of a fitness center but the loss in diversity and access to amenities, along with the integration of public space into a commercial endeavor prior to the new development proving viability puts too many costs and risk on the City prioritizing the possible wants of anticipated new residents over the proven needs of our current residents. 

However, I do support the addition of a smaller satellite fitness facility at this location with an optional add-on membership with market rate pricing depending on amenities to help accommodate the rapid growth we are anticipating for our City.

– Jeffrey Anderson, Springdale City Council Member

Keep in mind after a long period of treading water there is big time investment and growth coming to town.  In the near term we have developments that are slated to bring just over 2,800 rental units (both apartments and townhomes) to the City.  The City currently has around 11,000 people, in just over 4,500 households, made up of ~2,700 families (estimates from the 2010 and 2020 census).  So over the next few years we are looking at a HUGE lift in residents.

Merchant Street Development (former office building sites near the mall):

Source: City of Springdale “Community Center Presentation 03-08-22 (final).pdf”

Array Apartments (former Sheraton Hotel Site):

Source: City of Springdale “Community Center Presentation 03-08-22 (final).pdf”

Tri-County Mall Redevelopment:

Source: City of Springdale “Community Center Presentation 03-08-22 (final).pdf”
Source: City of Springdale “Community Center Presentation 03-08-22 (final).pdf”

Add to this growth explosion the current Community Center on Lawnview has several Million dollars in new and deferred maintenance needed – items include repairs or replacement of the outdoor pool, HVAC system components, retaining wall and other structural work, etc.

So it made a lot of sense to look into a move when the City was approached by the developers for Tri-County Mall – looking to both drive traffic to the new mixed use development and at the same time have the City equip and run the fitness facility they would need for their apartment residents – in exchange for well below market rate for the facility as well as initial building to suit.

Source: City of Springdale “Community Center Presentation 03-08-22 (final).pdf”

Note: this version of the rec center was presented to the “Seniors group” at a Community Center on 3/8.  The version presented to the wider community on 3/23 had the game room attached to the ‘Senior Lounge’ removed and replaced with more ‘Senior’ space.

Some challenges that need to be addressed:

  • Not all residents feel welcome and have space at the proposed location.  The draft plan presented at the 3/23 meeting includes 2 fewer gym courts, no game room, no club rec space, no teen fitness space, no child watch, no family play rooms, no batting cages, no racquetball courts.  At a glace the community is losing facilities we have now and not replacing them with updated options.
  • Indoor pools replace the current outdoor pool, though with limited deck space for teams and families when using the space for recreation or swim meets.  The current plan does not even allow for large wall openings to let the fresh air in on those amazing summer days we get to enjoy at the pool up until now.  Sunset Swims?
  • Community Center being integrated with commerce – there are not many places left in the world where you can go out where there is not an expectation of buying something.  Community Centers, Parks, and Libraries immediately come to mind as places like this and frankly I feel like those should be protected.
  • Community Center being placed in the middle of a proposed Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) – permitting open container and consumption of alcohol year round.  There was even concern about this raised at the meeting – some families feel like they would be taking their families to a bar instead of community center.
  • Safe access to the site will be a challenge.  The mall site is surrounded by 6-8 lanes of traffic and inside the mall site there will also be vehicle traffic.  For residents at the site less of a challenge but keep in mind this is not an additional fitness center for the new residents but the new Community Center for all of Springdale.
  • Facilities will be split – outdoor ball fields will remain at the current Community Center site (though maybe reconfigured or improved), this means less opportunities for those casual connections that happen at Community Centers as well as more driving and less options for the rest of the family for scheduled events.
  • Facility will be leased from a private management company – depending on the details of a final lease agreement the developer will have ownership of the building and would have final say on maintenance.  The previous mall owners had real challenges keeping up with tenant maintenance needs when the occupancy dropped off, what happens if the residential or retail offering struggle after redevelopment?  The City would still be on the hook for equipment, supplies, and staffing for the facility that the developer would otherwise have to do themselves.  The provided ‘below market’ lease rate is not free, it is an exchange for services, equipping and running the fitness center for the apartments they lease, while at the same time the City has less control of the facility.

So what to do now?  Have you voice heard!  Do you agree?  Have other questions or concerns?  There is another ‘Public Engagement meeting’ scheduled for April 13th at 6:30 PM at the Community Center 11999 Lawnview Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45246.

If you don’t want to wait until then or have comments to share now – let your elected officials know!

Keep in mind City Administration has been driving this process so far, but they only make a recommendation… City Council has to agree to the move (and lease).

email and phone numbers of all your City Council members are online – https://www.springdale.org/member-profiles.aspx

and

City Administration as well –
https://www.springdale.org/mayor-and-clerk-of-council.aspx

 

 

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