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Findlay mayor says he is leery of city land deals

FINDLAY - The mayor of Findlay is questioning the wisdom of spending nearly $1 million on two parcels of land to expand a recreation center the city doesn't even own.

City council Tuesday voted 6-3 to spend $965,700 for two tracts of land next to the Hancock Recreation Center on Main Street. The parcels involve 11.49 acres and 10.9 acres.

Mayor John Stozich said yesterday he plans to meet with the Hancock County commissioners today to discuss a purchase price for the building, which is used as an ice rink.

“That facility is 27 years old,” he said. “It will take a lot of money to bring it up to date.”

The mayor said that because of the slow economy, he is reluctant to commit the city to buying the land and spending an additional sum on the building, which in turn might need improvements.

Mr. Stozich said he has not decided whether he will veto the legislation.

“I've got nine more days to decide,” the mayor said.

The meeting with the commissioners, who Mr. Stozich said “want to get out of the recreation business,” is aimed at determining a purchase price, which has not been disclosed publicly.

“I'm still not too keen about that big price,” he said.

During Tuesday's meeting, Councilman K.C. Collette also expressed concerns about the timing.”

“It's almost like we're putting the cart before the horse,” he said.

Mr. Collette's amendment to purchase only one parcel for $400,000 was rejected.

If council has its way, the additional land would allow for expansion of the recreation center into party rooms, offices, and locker and restroom space, and provide room for ball fields and a playground.

The land purchase issue surfaced in September when city council voted to spend $1.1 million on the same two properties. The mayor vetoed the legislation, but he was able to negotiate the lower price, which city council approved on Tuesday.

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