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Published: Wednesday, 3/14/2012

Oregon council chief urges sports complex

Space for ice rink, volleyball, basketball sought

Thomas Susor says the facility could be built and operated as a public-private entity. Thomas Susor says the facility could be built and operated as a public-private entity.

A devoted grandfather, Thomas Susor travels to places such as Maumee and Perrysburg to watch his loved ones compete. And he wonders why the city of Oregon doesn't have a sports complex of its own.

The Oregon city council president is pushing for a new multimillion-dollar sports complex that could hold an indoor ice rink, volleyball, basketball, and soccer courts, and space for community theater.

The proposal is only in the planning stages, but Mr. Susor said he believes such a facility could be built and operated as a public-private entity with donations and a new tax. He did not provide exact cost estimates but said such a facility probably would cost $6 million to $7 million.

Hi goal is get to the issue on the Nov. 6 ballot.

"Our community is … committed to recreation. It's time for us to take the next step for a building," Mr. Susor said.

But others said they were concerned that the cost to build a new sports facility might jeopardize a future levy for the Oregon City Schools, facing a projected $12 million deficit by 2016.

"We want to be careful what we ask for," Mayor Mike Seferian said. "We don't want to be in a situation where we hurt something else."

The city, which owns about 58 acres behind the city municipal building, would be willing to donate land for the sports facility, the mayor said.

But the mayor said the city could not give money -- if the private donations fell short -- and pointed to 2011, a year when the city "did the impossible" to overcome nearly $1.7 million in revenue losses. "I will not put the city at risk for going in the red," Mayor Seferian said.

But Mr. Susor argued that a private-public partnership made the venture "do-able" and said, "We're not going to build something we can't afford."

The city is seeking feedback from the public, Oregon public and Kateri Catholic schools, Jerusalem Township, and others who might be interested in forming a joint recreation district.

"We've very interested in having everybody sit at the table," Mr. Susor said.

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