Friday, Aug 26, 2016
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Ottawa Hills: Some funds heading toward Geresy Field project

Some of the money earmarked last year by Ottawa Hills Village Council for work on the athletic fields at the Ottawa Hills Elementary School is expected to go toward an upgrade of Geresy Field.

But until the cost of the Geresy Field project is determined, council members said they won't decide on funding sources for needed improvements to 5 acres used for athletics at the elementary school.

Discussions last year ended in a stalemate with the village demanding what they viewed safeguards for spending nearly $600,000 on the elementary fields, but with the school board contending they were unable to meet the council's stipulations.

Village residents have attended recent meetings of the council and the board of education asking why no resolution has been found to correct the poor condition of the elementary playing fields.

The fields are used not only for school-related activities, but by community teams.

In addition to attending meetings, letters have been written to both bodies asking for a clarification of the situation and that efforts be made to get work under way.

In a letter to the village council, Jim Vitale, president of the Ottawa Hills Athletic Boosters Club, said private fund-raising efforts have been stalled due to "the absence of defined plans and goals.''

Mr. Vitale was one of a number of residents who sent a letter to the board of education asking for a joint meeting of the board of education and the village council to discuss the issue.

Dan Steinberg, a member of the board of education, said the village decision to upgrade Geresy Field is understandable, because the village owns it.

He said it is his hope that the village might then release some funds for use on the other fields.

Mr. Steinberg suggested that a joint meeting at this point might be premature, but Gary Wilson, president of the board, said he is willing to meet at any time in an attempt to end the impasse.

Mr. Steinberg said it is his hope that the difference between the cost of the Geresy improvements and the $570,000 the village intended to use for other athletic field improvements might be available.

He added that his efforts have largely been as a member of the community, and not on behalf of the school board.

Earlier this week the village council voted to get engineering and architectural specifications for the Geresy project.

Contact Mike Jones at:

mjones@theblade.com

or 419-724-6096

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