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Published: Wednesday, 11/1/2000

School district goes to bat again for levy

BY BRIAN DUGGER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

LIBERTY CENTER - School district leaders trying to get a bond issue's financing approved have adopted a philosophy that they hope athletes using a proposed sports facility will adopt: Never give up.

School officials again have placed a 1.52-mill levy on the ballot. Tuesday's measure follows on the heels of the defeat by 31 votes of an identical measure in August.

The proposal would raise $1.7 million to finish the Edward Harvey Parker Spring Sports Complex being built on 18 acres donated by the Parker family on the north side of town off State Rt. 109.

The owner of a $100,000 home would pay an extra $15.93 a year or about five cents a day.

When completed, the facility will consist of an eight-lane all-weather track with bleachers and press box, a boys' baseball field and girls' softball diamond, and a concession stand and rest rooms.

“We feel our present facilities are substandard,'' Superintendent Tom Lammers said.

In August, the measure failed 576-607. It passed in all areas except Fulton County and the Washington Township areas. “One of the things we've done is hold public meetings in those locales,'' Mr. Lammers said. “It was our intention to give all precincts a better idea of what we're trying to do and answer any questions.''

Mr. Lammers said the district is emphasizing a number of points, including:

  • The poor condition of the present facilities. The track is stone and cinder, only four lanes, and has resulted in some injuries because of its condition. In addition, the softball team must use the town park, and the baseball field is hard to maintain, because it is used for football parking and as a playground for younger children.

  • The length of the issue will mean everyone shares in the price. “The cost-sharing will be not just for present residents but anyone who moves into the district. By spreading the issue over 20 years, we can also keep the millage down,'' Mr. Lammers said.

  • The earlier it can be completed the better. The superintendent believes that bids for the project will be lower if work is completed by the spring of 2002, the targeted date.

  • The facility will benefit everybody in the community. The track will provide a safe area for residents to walk, and it will enable the district to draw in bigger meets, which will produce money for the sports department.

    Some residents have questioned why the project was advanced without the money to complete it. According to Mr. Lammers, the Parker family donated the land to be used as a spring sports facility.

    “We committed when we accepted the donation,'' he said.

    Beth Morrill is heading efforts to get the measure passed. She said the district completed its final town meeting Monday night, is running radio spots, and is trying to educate parents through the use of newsletters to junior high and elementary-aged students.

    “We narrowed it down to who would benefit the most, and we thought it would be those kids. If it does pass, they are going to have many years of joy.''

    She also heralded the success of the town hall meetings.

    “We had good questions and concerns raised,'' she said. “We were hoping to make them informed. If they are asked a question by a friend, hopefully they can now provide an accurate answer.''

    For his part, Mr. Lammers said he has been concentrating on getting more people to vote. Several people commented to him that they forgot or did not have time to vote in the last election.

    “We're trying to get more of the community involved and are focusing on those who did not vote,” the superintendent said. “We want to keep this project on track for 2002.''



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