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Published: Monday, 4/30/2001

Liberty voters again asked to fund school sports facility

LIBERTY CENTER - Officials of the Liberty Center school district, looking to complete the construction of a sports complex, hope a low-key campaign will convince voters of the need to support the project.

For the third time in the last nine months, school officials have placed a 1.51-mill levy on the ballot. The proposal would raise $1.7 million to finish the Edward Harvey Parker Spring Sports Complex, which is about one-third completed on 18 acres donated by the Parker family.

Although the land is there and the infrastructure is in place, supporters have had a hard time convincing homeowners to finish the job.

The tax issue would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $16 a year.

“It's frustrating from the standpoint that we really have need for a spring sports complex because our present facilities are so poor,” said Tom Lammers, superintendent of the 1,150-pupil district.

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

In August, 2000, a similar tax issue failed 576-607, largely because of opposition in Fulton County and the Washington Township areas.

The measure failed a second time in November with a 1,154-to-1,341 vote.

Mr. Lammers said the district's new proposal, to be voted on May 8, is similar to the last one. But this time, he said, the fanfare surrounding the bond has been minimized.

“The Tradition of Pride levy committee felt the first two times they did a good job getting information out to the people,” he said. “They didn't do as much publicity this time because they felt the information was out there.”

Mr. Lammers said the district was able to begin the project on the north side of town off State Rt. 109 because of a fund-raising effort that garnered $420,000. But the project has been stymied while officials work on securing funds to complete it.

School board member John Hartford said the bond committee felt that the size and scope of the project should not be jeopardized.

“It's a needs thing. Our facilities in all three of those spring sporting events need improvement,” he said.

Mr. Hartford said Liberty Center does not have a girls' softball diamond.

The boys' baseball field doubles as a parking lot for football games and the school's track is so deteriorated and unsafe that some schools refuse to go to meets hosted there.

“We felt when we accepted the land that we accepted the project,” he added. “We're hopeful this time it will succeed.”

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