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Published: Wednesday, 4/6/2005

Perrysburg Heights: Teen center, gym plans being made

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Perrysburg Heights Community Association has raised more than $1.2 million for construction and operation of a community center addition and is starting to plan the expansion, which will contain a gymnasium and teen center.

The association hopes to start building the 11,500-square-foot addition to its community center on Jefferson Street by fall. The expansion, which will cost about $900,000, will increase the center's capacity from about 40 people to more than 125 people.

"It's going to mean a whole lot for many kids in the community," said Fred Moor, executive director of the association.

The association is working with the YMCA of Greater Toledo to design a building that will meet the community's programming needs. The YMCA recently took over operation of most of the community center's programming, including afternoon tutoring sessions.

"We're noticing a substantial increase in the number of teens at the center," Mr. Moor said.

The association is hoping to serve people all over the area once the center's expansion is completed. Mr. Moor said the group is trying to negotiate with Perrysburg and Rossford schools to eventually have school buses drop students off at the center after school.

"We need to work out the details, but it looks like it's proceeding," Mr. Moor said. "It would make it very easy for kids to come to the center."

To build the addition and operate the community center, the association has been raising money for about three years. The group collected about $717,000 in private donations and got $500,000 in state money with the help of Ohio Sen. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green) and Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green).

The association wants to raise $700,000 to fund an endowment for the center's operation. It is planning additional fund-raisers, and representatives of the group went to the Perrysburg Township trustees last month to ask for help.

The group asked the trustees to contribute about $9,000 per year to cover utility costs at the center. "It would make a tremendous difference for us," said Paul Belazis, a trustee of the association.

Beverly Koenig, a resident in the audience at the township trustees' meeting, said she did not think the township should contribute money to the community center. "Why should we pay for something that benefits a select group of people?" she said.

Members of the association said the center is open to all families, not just those who live in Perrysburg Heights, a neighborhood south of I-475 and east of State Rt. 25.

The township trustees said they have received several letters from residents praising the association's efforts, but they are not sure they can afford to contribute money.

"We're constantly being cut back through local government funds from the state," trustee Barb Gunn said. "We have to take a hard look at what we can do."



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