Thursday, Jul 28, 2016
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Ottawa Hills seeking residents' opinions

Ottawa Hills is asking for residents' opinions about whether the village should take over ownership and maintenance of about 5 acres at the elementary school, owned by the school district.

The acreage is now a playground and athletic fields.

The village has an estimate of about $570,000 for a three-year period of improvements to the grounds, including relocating the ball diamonds, paving for a basketball area, drainage, installing an irrigation system and planting trees and hedges.

Maintaining the grounds is estimated to cost between $20,000 and $30,000 annually.

The village now maintains Geresy Field, the baseball diamond on Kenwood Boulevard across from the high school, but it is owned by the school system.

That agreement is based on a handshake between the village and the schools, but a lease is needed for the 5 acres under consideration so the village can apply for grants to help pay for the upgrades.

A public hearing is planned in the elementary school community room April 27 at 7:30 p.m.

Ottawa Hills mayor Kevin Gilmore said a committee of council members recommended the exchange, but formal action will not be taken until residents voice their opinions.

Although the school board has not voted on the issue, board president Gary Wilson said there have been informal discussions on the best way to transfer the property. The schools seek a clause in an agreement that would enable the district to reclaim some of the property if an expansion of the elementary school becomes necessary.

The property runs from Ashborn Place on the west to the elementary school on the east and from Indian Road on the south to the football stadium on the north.

Included in the landscaping estimate is a realignment of ball diamonds on the northern portion of the property. The outfields overlap the way they are currently situated. The basketball court will be moved north because it is too close to the children's playground on the south side of the elementary building. Village officials have pointed out that the area is used by citizens and teams that aren't affiliated with the school.

Contact Mike Jones at:

mjones@theblade.com

or 419-724-6096.

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