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Published: Wednesday, 12/27/2006

Sylvania helps offset Centennial deficit

BY MIKE JONES
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

The City of Sylvania has agreed to contribute $20,000 to help defray a budget shortfall in the operation of Centennial Terrace and Quarry in last year's operations.

The property at Centennial and Sylvania-Metamora roads is owned by Lucas County, which leases it to the city.

Mayor Craig Stough said that as the leaseholder on the land, the city periodically has given financial support to the swimming and dancing recreational spot on its western border.

The site, operated by the Sylvania Area Joint Recreation District, came up short by about $59,000 for last season.

Ken Katafias, operations manager of the recreation district, said a request also will be made to the Lucas County commissioners for funds to help with the budget shortfall.

Officials are discussing the possibility of a sale of the Centennial property so that it can be completely controlled by the recreation district. If the step is taken, it would allow the recreation district more flexibility in using the grounds, according to Charles Contrada, chairman of the district.

Mr. Contrada said the possibility has been discussed for years, "and we would welcome it."

He noted that both the city and township have an interest in the land and that the Sylvania school district owns a portion of the property. A final move will require cooperation from all of the entities, he added.

Michael Beazley, Lucas County administrator, said the county has no objection to the sale but would seek some assurance that most of the property would re-main dedicated to recreation.

Last season, combined attendance at the facility was about 31,000, according to Mr. Katafias.

He said attendance at the quarry totaled 13,285, with more than 500 people swimming on some days.

As always, Mr. Katafias said, swimming attendance was driven by the weather.

The quarry does well on hot summer days, but attendance is spotty when there is cooler or rainy weather. For the days it was open, the quarry attracted an average of 165 swimmers - identical to the average in 2005.

One of the reasons for last year's shortfall was the need to pump water from a nearby site into the quarry to bring the water level up to its usual level. That project cost about $7,500. The facility also needed nearly $3,000 to refurbish the volleyball area.

Another factor that hurt the bottom line was the lower attendance at dances during the most recent season, by as much as 40 percent, for "Teen Quake" events. The average attendance at those dances was 232, according to a report submitted to Sylvania City Council.

Some young people had caused disruptions at the events in 2004, and the dances now have been scheduled to end before darkness, which Mr. Katafias said seems to be one factor in the reduction in attendance.

He said there is consideration being given to ending the "Teen Quake" events.

The traditional Big Band dances, which draw an older crowd, also saw lower attendance during last season, according to the report. Those 10 dances drew an average of 222 people - a decrease of about 20 percent from the year before, Mr. Katafias said.

Two regional rock 'n' roll shows each drew about 500 people, according to the report, while Independence Day activities at the site drew about 5,000 people.



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